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Bowel Ca screening go-ahead

Colorectal cancer screening could be rolled out nationally as early as next year after Health Secretary Alan Milburn reported 'good progress' from a pilot scheme last week.

The National Screening Committee anticipated 'rapid' implementation of the programme throughout England if the pilot, due to report in February, proved successful.

The pilot, based in Coventry and Warwickshire, screened 172,000 patients aged 50-69. Patients were offered a non-invasive, self-administered faecal occult blood test and, if they tested positive, were referred for colonoscopy.

Dr Richard Stevens, chair of the Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology and a GP in Oxford, warned a national roll-out could have 'workforce and workload implications'.

He said: 'There will be false positives and increased anxiety around screening.'

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