Better bowel cancer screens in Scotland

The Scottish approach to bowel cancer screening will be more efficient and better received by patients than that being rolled out in England and Wales, experts say.

Under the Scottish programme, which will be rolled out to all aged 50-74 from June, patients with a weakly positive guaiac faecal occult blood test (FOBT) will undergo the more sensitive faecal immunochemical test (FIT) before colonoscopy.

In England, which began roll-out of its screening programme in April 2006, a weakly positive FOBT is followed by a repeat FOBT. Colonoscopy then follows.

Wales plans to begin roll-out of a similar scheme in April. Northern Ireland is working towards introducing a screening programme in 2009.

Last year, researchers from the Scottish Bowel Cancer Screening Laboratory in Dundee showed that using FIT in this way could reduce the need for colonoscopy by 30 per cent (GP, 13 January 2006).

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