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Screening programme has prevented 20,000 cases of bowel cancer in England

By August 11, 2023No Comments

A new study has found that NHS England’s bowel cancer screening programme has prevented 20,000 cases of the disease over the last decade. In a further boost to diagnostic screening, the rollout of tests will be approved for over-50s from 2025.

Researchers from the University of Bristol and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS foundation trust found that rates of colorectal cancer in the lowermost portion of the large bowel have decreased by almost 15% since the introduction of the screening programme in 2006 – the equivalent of 20,000 people.

However, in cancers of the uppermost part of the colon, reduction rates were found to be negligible due to polyps being harder to spot.

Most bowel cancer develops from a polyp over a 10- to 15-year period, meaning the disease can be detected very early and be treated without severe consequences to patients.

Once the tests are rolled out to over-50s in two years’ time, citizens in that age threshold will be sent bowel cancer testing kits every two years. If blood is found in any samples, patients will then be sent for a colonoscopy. Currently tests are only available to those between 60—74.

Some experts have even called for the age limit to be reduced below fifty given the explosion of cases in that category. The policy is already active in the USA, however a cost-benefit analysis would need to be established before this occurs in the UK.

Ben Kemp