The NHS screening program currently offers faecal stool tests for all people aged 60 or above. One off flexible sigmoidoscopy screening is due to be introduced in the UK and offered to those reaching the age of 55.
The UK MRC study published in the Lancet in 2010 showed that one off flexible sigmoidoscopy screening produced a significant benefit. A new study from the USA, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that a second flexible sigmoidoscopy performed 3-5 years after the initial examination confers added benefit in terms of increased detection of cancer by 26% in women and 36% in men. Whilst this study is interesting it doesn't tell us whether an additional test will ultimately reduce the mortality from colorectal cancer and whether or not the additional screening costs and complication risks of the tests are justified.
Uptake for the current screening program is still low in some areas and it is important that everyone take up the screening opportunity when offered.
In the meantime it is everyone needs to be aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer. If you have had blood in your stools or looser stools for 3 weeks you must seek advice from your GP
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