Screening detects 200 bowel cancer cases

Almost 200 cases of bowel cancer have been detected by the HSE’s BowelScreen programme since it was launched in early 2013, early figures to be released today will show.

To date, BowelScreen has invited more than 250,000 men and women aged 60 to 69 for screening and it has had a 45% participation rate.

Of the tests carried out, 95% have been normal while 5% of participants have been referred for a colonoscopy. That has led to the detection of almost 200 bowel cancer cases. Those with normal results are recalled for screening after two years.

Alan Smith, medical director of the HSE’s National Cancer Screening Service, will present the early data from the national colorectal cancer screening programme at the Irish Society of Gastro- enterology annual winter meeting today.

He said the 45% participation rate is broadly similar to screening programmes in other countries but the aim is to increase the participation rate to greater than 50%.

“I’m confident we will get it to that figure by the end of next year but we want to drive it higher than that,” said Dr Smith. “The more people we screen, the more cancers we will pick up and continual education of the public and promotion of the programme will help.”

Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in Ireland. Each year, almost 2,500 people here are diagnosed with it and 1,000 people die.

Currently more than half of people with bowel cancer are diagnosed in the later stages of the disease, requiring more complex treatment.


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