Survival 'greater' after bowel cancer screening diagnoses

26 July 2012

Bowel cancer sufferers are more likely to survive if their condition is diagnosed through a screening process, a new study has suggested.

Research carried out by experts at Wansbeck General Hospital in Northumberland and Durham University also suggests that the test used in bowel screening, which involves inspecting stool samples for blood, is better at finding bowel cancers in men, and in the lower part of the bowel.

Dr Michael Gill, lead author of the study, explained that nearly 40 per cent of all screen-detected cancers are at an early stage, with an improved survival rate for these patients compared to cancers found in patients who did not attend screening.

When bowel cancer is found at the earliest stage, more than 90 per cent of people survive for at least five years, he added.

"Compared to the trials which led to the introduction of the national bowel screening programme, our research shows that the proportion of bowel cancers detected through screening has improved with the roll-out of national screening," Dr Gill explained.

However, he noted that too many bowel cancers are "slipping through the net" and called for greater understanding of why the present blood test is failing to pick up cancers in certain parts of the bowel, and in women.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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