Bowel test cuts cancer deaths

Camera screens can slash colon cancer deaths by 40 per cent, according to new research...

A new bowel cancer test ‘cuts deaths by 40 per cent’, according to The Daily Telegraph.

The newspaper estimates that offering the brief, one-off test to people aged 55 could save 3,000 lives a year and prevent a further 5,000 people from developing bowel cancer.

Several other newspapers also reported the results of a well-conducted, landmark trial into the screening test, which uses a flexible camera to check for abnormalities in the bowel.

While the number of people who took the test was relatively low compared to the number who were offered it (the uptake rate), those who did take it were 33% less likely to develop bowel cancer and 43% less likely to die from it than those not invited for screening.

Lead researcher, Professor Wendy Atkin, from Imperial College London, told the press: ‘For the first time that we could dramatically reduce the incidence of bowel cancer and the number of people dying from the disease. Our results suggest that screening with Flexi-scope could save thousands of lives.’

While the low uptake rate and possible anxiety over the method will need consideration, overall the potential benefits of this test seem clear.

Colorectal cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer worldwide, accounting for more than a million cases and around 600,000 deaths every year. Beating the disease is strongly linked to how early it is detected, with survival rates of around 90 percent for cancers that are found early and have not spread.

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