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Bowel cancer screening programme on target

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme is on target to achieve the 16% cut in colorectal cancer mortality suggested in trials, according to data from the first million tests.

An analysis of 2.1 million tests sent out to 60–69 year olds identified from GP registers found 1.1 million tests were returned. Overall uptake was 55-60% outside London but only 40% in the capital, with a higher uptake in women (at 54.4%) than men (at 49.6%).

Cancer was found in 11.6% of the men who had an abnormal test and 7.8% of the women, with high-risk adenomas found in 43% and 29% respectively. Early cancer (Dukes stage A or B) was found in 70% of cases. These figures were in line with the estimates from trials.

Study lead Professor Richard Logan, professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, said the faecal occult blood test would be replaced with an immunological test in the next few years.

He said: ‘We might then expect a 25% increase in uptake and a doubling of detection rates.’

Gut, October 2012

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