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Bowel scope in colorectal cancer screening

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Bowel scope screening is a new part of the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme and is being rolled out across England from 2013

  • involves once - only flexible sigmoidoscopy for all men and women around the time of the 55th birthday
  • everyone will still be invited to take part in Faecal Occult Blood testing every two years from the age of 60y
  • anybody 55-59 can self-refer if their GP practice is live and they missed the invitation, the interested person should call 0800 707 60 60 to check their eligibility (1)

Risks of procedure:

  • minor rectal bleeding after the procedure may occur but about 1 in 3,000 have serious bleeding needing hospital admission
  • a very small risk of bowel perforation (about 1 in 30,000)

Benefits of bowel scope screening:

  • key benefit of bowel scope screening is prevention of colorectal cancer
    • bowel scope screening was found to reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer over 11 years' follow up from 5 in 300 to 3 in 300 in a UK randomised controlled trial
      • ie 2 cases of colorectal cancer are prevented for every 300 people screened
  • reduces colorectal cancer mortality
    • reduces colorectal cancer deaths over 11 years' follow up from 2 in 300 to 1 in 300
      • ie 1 colorectal cancer death is prevented for every 300 people screened


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