Bowel Cancer Screening
Bowel Cancer, also known as Colorectal Cancer, is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in the UK. If detected early before symptoms arise, treatment is more likely to be successful. Bowel Cancer Risk increases with age. Screening from the age of 40 could save your life.
The London General Practice has developed its bowel cancer screening programme with the advice of leading experts and reviewing the protocols around the world.
Screening often finds colorectal (bowel) cancer early when it is small, has not spread and might be easier to treat.
Regular screening prevents bowel cancer.
A polyp can take as long as 10-15 years to develop into cancer.
With screening this polyp can be found and removed before it becomes cancer.
Why is Bowel Cancer Screening important?
Bowel cancer is a leading cause of cancer death. However, the death rate has been dropping for several years and this can be accounted for by the screening and removal of polyps before they develop into cancer.
When colorectal cancer is found at an early stage before it has spread, the five-year survival rate is about 90%.
However, only about 4/10 colorectal cancers are found at this early stage. When cancer has spread outside the colon or rectum, the survival rates are lower.
If you are at average risk, regular screening is offered from the age of 45.
This can be done with a stool for FIT test, which looks for blood in the stool or preferably with an examination that looks at the colon and rectum such as a CT pneumocolon or colonoscopy.
From the age of 45-75 regular colorectal screening should be offered.
The findings at colonoscopy or CT pneumocolon would dictate the frequency of procedures during this period.
If you are aged 76-85, the decision to be screened is based on your own life expectancy, overall health and prior screening history.
Over the age of 85, colorectal screening is now not recommended.
Those at increased risk might need to start screening before the age of 45. This would include:
- Strong family history of bowel cancer or certain types of cancer.
- Personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps.
- Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
- Known family history of hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome.
- Personal history of radiation to the body or pelvic area of prior cancer.
The London General Practice will discuss your own personal history carefully and consider with you what is the most advantageous way of ensuring effective screening.
For people at an increased risk of bowel cancer (those with a one or more family member who have had colorectal cancer), you will be offered recommendations depending on who in the family had cancer and how old they were when diagnosed.
You will also be offered genetic screening and be referred accordingly to a geneticist and/or gastroenterologist.
The London General Practice offers a stool for blood test, the FIT test, on a yearly basis, CT Pneumocolon or colonoscopy as appropriate.
At the London General Practice we screen for cancers individually or as part of one of our comprehensive health screens. Our genetic testing cancer panel can also help you understand if you have an increased genetic risk of developing any one of 57 hereditary cancer conditions.