A patient at a hospital reception

Bowel screening will save lives

We don’t often talk about ‘breakthroughs’ at Cancer Research UK – science can be a slow moving and painstaking process. But every now and again researchers make a discovery that has the potential to immediately start saving lives.

In April this year, the results of a trial were published in the Lancet which universally excited the cancer research community. The trial, which had taken 16 years to carry out, and which we’d helped to support, showed that a new bowel screening technique – known as Flexi-Scope – could both reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer and prevent the disease from developing in the first place.

We covered the trial on this blog, and many of you left comments sharing your excitement and optimism about the discovery.

Today, David Cameron announced on the Andrew Marr show that Flexi-Scope is to be included in the NHS Bowel Screening Programme. This is fantastic news. We believe that the technique has the potential to cut the number of cases of bowel cancer by a third, and cut deaths from the disease by almost half (43 per cent) among those attending screening.

This could save thousands of lives every year, and push bowel cancer down the league table of cancer cases in the UK.

But the work’s not over – we now need the Government to commit to rolling the programme out across the NHS as quickly as possible, and to ensuring proper training and resources.

Any unnecessary delay will cost lives.