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Bowel cancer screening will save 2,500 lives a year

The national bowel cancer screening programme will save two and a half thousand lives every year by 2025, according to the results of a new study.

By 2025, researchers expect that the use of faecal occult blood testing kits – used to detect traces of blood, an early sign of colon cancer, in people's stools - will save between 2200 and 2700 lives in the UK every year.

Researchers modelled the impact of the colorectal cancer screening programme – based on mortality and incidence rates between 1975 and 2004 and the number of people that attended screening in early trials – to see the impact that the screening programme would have over the next 20 years.

Assuming a 60-80% uptake rate, they found mortality rates fell by between 13–17% in men and 12–15% in women.

Study author Dr Max Parkin, Cancer Research UK epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London, said: ‘Cancer of the bowel is a major problem in the UK for both men and women.

‘In this study we're assuming that between 60 and 80 per cent of people will take up the opportunity to be screened. But, if we can encourage more people to take part then we would hope to save even more lives.'

The study is published in the Journal of Medical Screening.

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