Volunteers from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have helped healthcare professionals teach hundreds of people about the dangers of bowel cancer.
Students working with DMU’s Square Mile team – which employs the skills and experience of the university’s students and staff out across the community – have spent several days manning a stall in Leicester's Haymarket shopping centre together with NHS and Cancer Research UK staff.
The display has attracted hundreds of visitors, not least because it features a giant inflatable walk-in colon which allows NHS staff to guide people through it, showing the signs of symptoms of the disease and illustrating an often overlooked and misunderstood condition.
Katheryne Gill, NHS Specialist Screening Nurse, said the stall been drawing 100 people a day and, as a result had referred more than 50 people to their GPs for further tests.
She said: “A lot of people have come to ask about family members and they’ve been invited to go and visit different communities in Leicester.
“The students have been brilliant, going out into the centre and chatting to people, getting them to come and take a look at the stall.”
Sannia Parveen, who studies Nursing at DMU, said: “We have been talking with people about the signs and symptoms shown people the test kits and we have also spoken to people who are on a journey of recovery from bowel cancer who have welcomed what is being done.”
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Fellow Nursing student Marzena Noga, said: “It’s good experience although we have placements and experience in hospitals and the community health promotion is something different that’s not covered. It’s interesting to see how to get the messages out there.”
The campaign has been launched because Leicestershire and Rutland has a lower than average return rate of the testing kits people are sent when they are aged 60-74.
Adam Williams, Cancer Research UK Facilitator for Leicestershire, said there were several reasons for this.
He said: “The problem is getting patients aware of the symptoms, so that’s why we have the inflatable here – it gives people a very visual illustration.
“But there’s also the fact that in order for people to be tested, they have to initiate things themselves, which is a barrier. Then there’s the ‘ickiness’ of it – getting a sample of poo, getting it to your doctor.
“But it’s so important. If you have any of the symptoms for more than a couple of weeks – blood in poo, change in bowel habits or appetite – you should be seeing your GP.
“If we catch bowel cancer at stage one, there is a nine-in-10 chance that people will survive for more than five years after this. This drops to one-in-10 at stage four.”
Posted on Wednesday 12th April 2017