Bowel Cancer Screening

Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCSP)

What is Bowel Cancer Screening ?

About one in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime. It is the third most common cancer in the UK, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths, with over 16,000 people dying from it each year.

Bowel Cancer Screening ProgrammeIf bowel cancer is picked up and treated at an early stage, the prospects for complete cure are far better. Unfortunately, the symptoms of early bowel cancer are difficult to spot.

For this reason, the government have set up an NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme with the aim of detecting bowel cancer at an early stage (in people with no symptoms), when treatment is more likely to be effective.

Bowel cancer screening can also detect polyps. These are not cancers, but may develop into cancers over time. They can easily be removed, reducing the risk of bowel cancer developing.

Regular bowel cancer screening has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16 per cent.

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme is organised around “hubs” which are responsible for sending out FOB (faecal occult blood) test kits to people between the ages of 60 and 69 years old. These kits can detect the presence of microscopic amounts of blood in the stool – such as can occur when a tumour is present in the bowel. People with a positive FOB test are then referred for an examination of the bowel using a colonoscope (a long, thin flexible telescope). 

BCSP Service at the Royal Liverpool

Only centres able to provide the very best standards of care are permitted to become screening centres and carry out colonoscopy examinations for the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme.

The Endoscopy unit at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital was one of first sites in the UK, and the first site in Merseyside and Cheshire to offer colonoscopy for the Bowel Cancer Screening Service. The team now has 3 of the 4 colonoscopists the cover Merseyside and North Cheshire; namely Dr Paul O’Toole, Dr Sanchoy Sarkar and Professor Morris. Dr O’Toole is the lead colonoscopist and the head of quality and governance for the whole Mersyside and Cheshire Programme.

The screening centres for Merseyside and North Cheshire is based at University Hospital Aintree, with colonoscopies being performed at Aintree and the Royal Liverpool University Hospital. It was the third centre in the country to start screening (in September 2006) and is one of the largest. The Royal Liverpool University Hospital carries out more than 500 colonoscopies each year for the programme, with results that are among the best in the country. Each year we find unsuspected bowel cancers in about 50 people and remove polyps from more than 200 other people – reducing significantly their chances of developing bowel cancer in the future. 

Further Information

For further information please read the acrobat.gif NHS booklet regarding BCSP or visit the following website www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/bowel


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