Screening cuts bowel cancer rate

Bowel cancer screening halves the number of emergency admissions for the disease and significantly cuts death rates, according to UK research.

Findings highlight the importance of the national bowel cancer screening programme, which currently targets those aged 60 to 69 across England.

The screening programme will be extended from 2012 to include men and women aged 70 to 75, as part of the NHS National Cancer Strategy, which was published by the DoH this week.

In the latest study, researchers looked at the impact of two pilot bowel cancer screening programmes launched in Coventry and Warwickshire in 1999.

The number of emergency admissions for bowel cancer and the number of deaths within 30 days of admission to the largest hospital trust in the Midlands over five years were analysed.

In this time, 1,236 bowel cancer patients were admitted to hospital as an emergency.

At the start of the study, just under 30 per cent of the bowel cancer patients had to be admitted as an emergency.

However, once the screening programme had been in place for five years this figure halved to just 15 per cent.

Before the launch of the screening programmes, 48 per cent of those undergoing emergency surgery for bowel cancer died. But after the launch of the screening programme this figure fell to just 13 per cent.

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