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GPC fights back as MPs claim GPs cannot spot cancer signs

Bowel cancer screening will be rolled out nationally starting in 18 months' time, Health Secretary John Reid announced last week.

Home testing kits for faecal occult blood testing will be sent to all men and women over 60 from April 2006.

Dr Reid told delegates at the Britain Against Cancer conference last week that the Government had earmarked £37.5 million as start-up funds and promised an extra 345 endoscopists would be appointed.

Dr Richard Stevens, chair of the Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology and a GP in Oxford, said bowel cancer screening was worthwhile as it prevented one in six premature deaths from the disease. But he warned that it was 'absolutely mandatory' that endoscopy services for further investigation were expanded.

And the British Society of Gastroenterology has warn-ed that the poor state of colonoscopy in the NHS could undermine a screening programme. Flexible sigmoidoscopy could also be introduced to supplement faecal occult blood testing once

trials had been completed.

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