Bowel cancer event focuses on family links for early diagnosis

Mark White, Hospital Director at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre (centre) flanked by Wendy Wilson, Founder and Chair of Plymouth and District Bowel Cancer Support Group (to his left) and Dr Selina Goodman, Genetic Counsellor from the University of Plymouth (to his right) with members of the Plymouth and District Bowel Cancer Support Group

A University of Plymouth academic has led an event highlighting family links to bowel cancer, and how endoscopy is used to help with early diagnosis of the condition.

Dr Selina Goodman, a genetic counsellor at the University, gave a talk to members of the Plymouth and District Bowel Cancer Support Group at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre to discuss her website Family Web ( The website is designed to enable families to share vital information about their genetic diagnosis with other family members and health professionals.

The idea formed when Dr Goodman heard of a young mother in her 30s who, having presented clear symptoms of bowel cancer, was told “not to worry” by her doctor. Had she been able to access information demonstrating her family history at the time, she would have been immediately referred for screening which would have shown that she, in fact, had an inherited form of bowel cancer.

Dr Goodman’s presentation covered the research she carried out which enabled her to create the website to meet the needs of people with an inherited vulnerability to bowel cancer.

She said: 

“Family Web allows high-risk patients a secure platform to share information such as letters from the hospital or a family tree [demonstrating a history of bowel related disease] by a sending a link via email to their relatives. Users of the website can show their doctor crucial information about their diagnosis by turning on their smartphone, tablet or laptop and looking at their account on the website.

“I was very pleased to be given the opportunity to talk about my work with people who are so intimately associated with bowel cancer.”

Visitors then found out more about the endoscopy service at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre. Around 2,700 endoscopies have been carried out at Peninsula since its endoscopy service was launched just over two years ago. Based in the first hospital of its kind to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission, the service is one of only a handful in the country to have been accredited by the Joint Advisory Group after that organisation’s first inspection (it is usual for services to have one or two further inspections before accreditation is granted).

Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre offers a range of endoscopy procedures including:

  • Colonoscopy, used to examine your large and small bowel;
  • Sigmoidoscopy, the examination of the large intestine using a rigid endoscope;
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy, where a flexible endoscope is used to look at the furthest part of the colon;
  • Gastroscopy, where an endoscope is passed through the mouth and throat to check the stomach;
  • Trans-nasal endoscopy, where a thinner endoscope is passed through the nose to investigate the stomach.

If your GP thinks you need an endoscopy, you can ask to be referred to Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre – it is part of your choice for NHS treatment and care.

Visitors were then given a tour of the hospital.

Wendy Wilson, Founder and Chair of the Plymouth and District Bowel Cancer Support Group, said: 

“We were very grateful to Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre for arranging this event. It was very helpful for our members, many of whom will be interacting with Dr Goodman’s website and choosing Peninsula for their endoscopy and other treatment.”

Mark White, Hospital Director at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre, added: 

“We were delighted to welcome members of the Plymouth and District Bowel Cancer Support Group to the hospital, and our thanks go to Dr Goodman for her interesting and informative presentation. Bowel Cancer UK is one of our chosen charities, for which we have already raised in the region of £350 through donations.”

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