Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK, with over eight in ten cases affecting those aged over 60 years old.
Under the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme in England, people aged 60-74 years old are sent a home testing kit every two years. Those aged above the eligible age limit are also able to self-refer for screening. As part of the Programme, a new test is being introduced which is easier to complete and it is hoped that 200,000 more people per year will take up the opportunity to be screened. And an additional one-off bowel scope screening test is also being introduced for those aged 55 years old.
Hospital trusts already offer screening for patients, where clinically appropriate, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) new cancer referral guidelines also state that GPs should refer patients for testing in hospital if they present with relevant symptoms at relevant ages.
There is more to be do, though, and I am pleased the Government is working with the NHS, charities and patient groups to deliver the new cancer strategy developed by the independent Cancer Taskforce. This new strategy will ensure that, by 2020, everyone urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer will receive either a definitive diagnosis or the all-clear within four weeks, and, together with the £1.2 billion Cancer Drugs Fund and broader increases in health spending, will, undoubtedly, help build on already impressive survival rates.