Screening increases bowel cancer rates

The introduction of a screening programme has seen the bowel cancer rates in the UK increase dramatically.

Between 2006 and 2008, bowel cancer rates in 60 to 69-year-olds went up by more than 12 per cent in England, the latest figures from Cancer Research UK have confirmed.

In 2006, men and women aged 60 to 69 were the target of a bowel cancer screening programme.

This has since been extended to cover men up to the age of 74 in England.

While bowel cancer rates have tended to increase by no more than 2.1 per cent in any two-year period in the last decade, this unusual jump has been accounted for by the introduction of the screening programme.

The programme involves using a faecal occult blood test, which is mailed to people to allow them to carry out the test at home before posting a series of small stool samples to a lab for testing.

Catherine Thomson, Cancer Research UK's head of statistics, commented: "Without the screening programme it's likely that many of these cancers would not have been found for another few years, by which time they would be harder to treat.

"This test can help find bowel cancer at an early stage, before it causes noticeable symptoms."


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