Faecal immunochemical tests for haemoglobin (FIT) are now used in asymptomatic bowel screening programmes and also in assessment of patients presenting with lower bowel symptoms. FIT specimen collection devices have a stick attached to the cap of the tube: this stick has dimples or grooves near the end to collect the correct amount of faeces. Our instructions are simple, namely, “dip the end of the stick into your poo” and “scrape the end of the stick along the sample”, and have pictures of exactly what sample is required. However, many seem surprised at how little faeces is collected, only 2 mg in the FIT used in Scotland for both clinical purposes. Interestingly, some assume that more must be better and do try very hard to give a little (or a lot) extra in the device! To date, very little attention has been paid to this aspect of FIT. Recently, however, a very relevant paper has been published.1
We are delighted that our Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood as provided us with some thoughtful reading and indeed future horizons which cover both screening and prevention.
Normal weight is no longer normal. In Scotland, more people are overweight or obese than a healthy weight. The impact of this on our nation’s health and well-being now and into the future is not easily overstated. And general understanding and awareness of this problem has certainly shifted in the past couple of years, which is always a good start. At Cancer Research UK we have a particular interest. If you don’t smoke, then maintaining a healthy weight is most important thing you can do to stack your odds against cancer. Overweight and obesity is linked to 13 cancers and it’s now a top priority for us.
In 2007, the International Agency for Research on Cancer|World Health Organization (IARC|WHO) concluded that the effects of shift work on the disruption of normal circadian rhythm had a probable link to breast cancer. IARC suggest that our endogenous 24-hour body clocks may be subject to interference by factors such as exposure to light at night, and it’s impact on melatonin levels may be linked to breast cancer. However, a recent meta-analysis led by Dr Ruth C. Travis published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute concludes that night shift work may actually have very little effect on breast cancer risk.
There aren’t many good things to report about dietary trends in Scotland but one that does stand out is our decreasing consumption of red and processed meat – albeit by a modest amount.
Every time I show the slide that says “35% of Scottish women aged over 50 drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week,” I am reminded that this includes me. I would not describe myself as a heavy drinker, but I do drink more than I know is appropriate for my health. From my research on alcohol intake in women and breast cancer risk, I know that I am not alone in being reluctant to discuss the pleasure of red wine consumption with health professionals.
Once again we are nearing the end of the year, and here at the Scottish Cancer Prevention Network, we’ve invited our members, colleagues and regular SCPN Newsletter contributors to recommend what they have been reading on cancer prevention during 2016. We’ve asked each of them to recommend one paper which they thought would be valuable to share. This week our second instalment comes to us courtesy of Prof James Garden of Edinburgh University, we hope you enjoy.
Title: Pancreatic Cancer
Once again December is upon us, and here at the Scottish Cancer Prevention Network, we’ve invited our members, colleagues and regular SCPN Newsletter contributors to recommend what they have been reading on cancer prevention during 2016. We asked each of them for one paper which they thought would be valuable to share and so kicking us off is Nicola Barnstable, Diane Primrose & The Detect Cancer Early Team, we hope you enjoy.
Title: Tipping The Scales: Why Preventing Obesity Makes Economic Sense
The relationship between obesity and cancer has been well described…and well ignored! Exposure to excess body fat will contribute to increased risk of some of the most common cancers including bowel and breast. Yet, few agencies working in the cancer settings (including the NHS) bring this to the attention of the millions of people who are in contact with healthcare every day. Many think it is a duty of care for people to be given advice on how to “stack the odds” against cancer occurrence (and recurrence) and that we deny people the opportunity to be supported to reduce cancer risk.