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Volume 400: debated on Wednesday 26 February 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many hospitals in the UK are equipped to perform flexible sigmoidoscopies;. [96070](2) what estimate he has made of the number of patients subject to rigid sigmoidoscopy procedures who could have a flexible sigmoidoscopy; [96071](3) what percentage of patients investigated for bowel cancer are subject to

(a) rigid sigmoidoscopy, (b) flexible sigmoidoscopy and (c) barium enema and (d) colonoscopy. [95993]

Data is not available on the number of hospitals that are equipped to perform flexible sigmoidoscopies, nor on the percentage of bowel cancer patients that have individual investigations. The decision as to the appropriate diagnostic test for any patient will be for the clinical judgment of the clinician in charge of the patient's care, taking full consideration of the patient's presenting symptoms.

A national health service bowel cancer programme was announced on 5 February 2003. The aim of the programme is to develop a national screening programme for bowel cancer and speed up diagnosis and treatment for patients with the disease.