New test prompts rise in bowel screening uptake

New test prompts rise in bowel screening uptake

The Faecal Immunochemical Test, or FIT for short, only requires one stool sample rather than three. And it uses a simple and cleaner sampling technique and comes in an easy-return postal package.

Furthermore, FIT is more sensitive because it eliminates potential dietary interference and can measure very low levels of stool blood from bleeding colon cancers and pre-cancerous polyps.

The pilot, which involved 40,000 people in the North West, the Midlands and the South of England showed almost double the uptake (25.6%) than that derived from the current guaiac faecal occult blood test or gFOBt (14.5%) for those who had previously chosen not to take part in screening.

A substantial improvement in uptake occurred among 60 year olds invited to take the test for the first time, with participation rising from 54.4% to just under 70%. And in men of all ages, participation rose from 57% to 65.5%.

The results showed that the increased uptake was spread across the socioeconomic spectrum.

FIT is recommended in the European Guideline for colorectal cancer screening.

“These results provide real encouragement that FIT can further improve our ability to increase screening uptake and detect bowel cancer early. Cancer Research UK recommends that each nation’s bowel screening programme should combine Bowel Scope Screening—also known as flexible sigmoidoscopy—with FIT,” said Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK’s director of early diagnosis.

“We know that Scotland has already committed to upgrading their screening programme, and we urge the other UK nations to do the same without delay,” she urged.

Deborah Alsina, chief executive, Bowel Cancer UK agreed: “Currently only around half of those invited take part in the NHS bowel cancer screening programme, meaning opportunities to detect cancer early are being lost.

These exciting results clearly show that introducing the FIT test as part of the screening programme could help address that.”

She added: “We therefore urge England, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow Scotland's lead and rapidly commit to implementation. It will save lives and help us stop bowel cancer.”

Every year over 41,500 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer, and around 16,000 die of their disease. Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK.

By Caroline White,

OnMedica, Friday 27 March 2015

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