Bowel cancer screening scheme successful Print

A bowel cancer screening programme among the over-60s has led to more cases being detected at an earlier stage.


Research from the charity, Cancer Research UK, found that bowel cancer rates among those aged 60 to 69 jumped 12% in England between 2006 and 2008. The screening programme was launched in 2006 and rolled out nationally, with screening now available to all men and women in England aged 60 to 74.


People in England receive a home testing kit in the post and send back stool samples for analysis. Similar schemes run in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The figures show that before the screening programme, bowel cancer rates among people in their sixties rose no more than 2.1% in any two years over the last decade.
Rates began increasing in 2007, after the screening was introduced, and were up 6% on the previous year.


Signs of bowel cancer include bleeding from the rectum, a change in toilet habits such as prolonged diarrhoea or looser stools, a straining feeling when using the toilet, weight loss and pain in the abdomen or rectum. The screening test known as FOBT (the faecal occult blood test) picks up minuscule traces of blood which can be an early sign of bowel cancer.


This screening programme is very important as more than 90% of people whose bowel cancer is caught in the earliest stages will live for at least five years.