Paul Blomfield – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Paul Blomfield on 2016-02-03.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what plans he has to extend bowel cancer screening to all people aged 50 and older.

Jane Ellison

Bowel cancer screening by faecal occult blood testing for men and women aged 50 to 74 was recommended by the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) in July 2003. Following the UK NSC’s recommendation, bowel cancer screening in England was initially offered to men and women aged 60 to 69 years old. The original programme in England only invited people in their 60s because the risk of bowel cancer increases with age, with over 80% of bowel cancers being diagnosed in people who are aged 60 or over. In the pilot, over three times more cancers were detected in people aged over 60 than under 60, and people in their 60s were most likely to complete a testing kit. In addition there were issues about endoscopy capacity. The programme has now been extended to men and women aged up to 74. Men and women aged over 74 can self-refer for screening every two years if they wish.

In 2011, the UK NSC recommended that screening for bowel cancer using bowel scope screening could be offered. The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme is currently rolling out Bowel Scope Screening (BSS), an additional one off examination for men and women aged 55 with the aim of detecting and removing any adenomas (polyps) at an early stage to prevent bowel cancer from developing. We are on track to achieve the commitment of all local BSS screening centres in England being operational by the end of 2016.