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Bowel Cancer Screening

Volume 458: debated on Monday 26 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made towards (a) establishing and (b) evaluating pilots of flexible sigmoidoscopy as part of bowel cancer screening for people in their fifties. (129630)

[holding answer 23 March 2007]: Flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS) is a potential way of screening for bowel cancer. A large clinical trial, funded by the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK, has looked into screening healthy people for bowel cancer using FS. The final results are not expected until 2008 but early results have been very promising and have shown that this type of screening will help to prevent bowel cancer and be cost effective. However, we do not know yet how many lives it could save. Based on these promising results, the Government are now funding a pilot study at St. Mark’s hospital in London to examine the feasibility of FS screening performed by specialist nurses. The pilot is inviting 2000 men and women aged 58 and 59. The study is costing £400,000, and is expected to report in 2008.