Bowel Cancer: Screening

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent steps he has taken to improve diagnostic rates of the NHS bowel cancer test.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The Government committed in the NHS Long Term Plan published in January to modernise the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCSP) to detect more cancers earlier. The plan will modernise the BCSP to detect more cancers earlier by lowering the starting age for bowel screening from 60 to 50.

Further, the Faecal Immunochemical Test was rolled out in England in June 2019 following a UK National Screening Committee recommendation to replace the previously used Faecal Occult Blood test. This test is both more accurate and more acceptable so will contribute to saving many more lives from bowel cancer and, as an easier test for patients to use, is expected to improve take up rates by 7%, including among groups with low participation rates such as men, people from ethnic minority backgrounds and people in more deprived areas.

In addition, we expect the Professor Sir Mike Richards’ Review of Screening, due to be published soon, to identify additional opportunities to improve the uptake of bowel cancer screening.

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