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Options for bowel screening

Switching to alternative bowel cancer screening strategies would be more cost-effective than using faecal occult blood testing as planned.

New research published online in Gut suggests screening with flexible sigmoidoscopy would have significantly great-er health benefits.

Offering over-60s sigmoido-scopy followed by faecal occult blood testing every two years between ages 61 and 70 would reduce bowel cancer incidence by 22.7 per cent and mortality by 33.4 per cent.

By comparison, the current NHS bowel cancer screening programme guidelines, which recommend offering faecal occult blood testing every two years for patients aged 60-69, would only reduce incidence by 3.9 per cent and mortality by 14.3 per cent.

The NHS would save £1.92 per patient using sigmoido-scopy, but spend £24.35 per patient on faecal occult blood.

Study leader Dr Paul Tappenden, senior cost-effectiveness modeller at the school of health and related research, University of Sheffield, said: 'The model is likely to have a cost-effectiveness profile better than many interventions funded on the NHS.'

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