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Colorectal Cancer: Screening

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many people have been contacted about bowel cancer screening by the bowel cancer screening system in (a) 2003-04, (b) 2004-05, (c) 2005-06, (d) 2006-07 and (e) 2007-08; (200893)

(2) what percentage of people contacted about bowel cancer screening by the bowel cancer screening system participated in the bowel cancer screening programme in (a) 2003-04, (b) 2004-05, (c) 2005-06, (d) 2006-07 and (e) 2007-08.

The information requested is not available prior to July 2006.

Roll-out of the national NHS bowel cancer screening programme only began in April 2006, with the first invitations sent out in July 2006. Full national implementation is expected by December 2009. Within the programme, men and women are sent an invitation letter a week before they are sent a testing kit to give them the opportunity to decline receiving a testing kit if they do not wish to receive one for personal or clinical reasons.

As at 31 March 2008, 1,185,791 men and women had been sent an invitation letter, 1,099,653 had been sent a testing kit, and 590,769 had completed and returned a testing kit. This represents 50 per cent. of those who had been sent an invitation letter, and 54 per cent. of those who had been sent a testing kit. In addition, 17,192 men and women aged 70 or over had been sent a testing kit on request.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) from where the NHS Connecting for Health: bowel cancer screening system draws its contact data; (200895)

(2) how often the dataset used by the NHS Connecting for Health: bowel cancer screening system is refreshed.

The bowel cancer screening system draws its data from the National Health Applications Infrastructure Services (the ‘Exeter’ system), which contains the names and details of all people registered with a general practitioner in England. The system is refreshed on a daily basis.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to broaden the age range of the bowel cancer screening programme; (201175)

(2) what steps he plans to take to maximise up-take of bowel cancer screening among the target population; and what arrangements he has made to monitor the efficacy of the programme.

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced in September 2007 the NHS bowel screening programme will be extended from 2010 to invite men and women aged 70 to 75 to take part.

A booklet entitled ‘Bowel Cancer Screening: The Facts’, which provides information about bowel cancer and sets out the benefits and risks of participating in the screening programme, is sent out with each invitation. It is important to remember that no screening method is perfect and anyone invited to be screened for cancer must be aware of both the potential benefits and harms of being screened and be able to make an informed decision on whether or not to take part.

It is for strategic health authorities working in partnership with their primary care trusts, local screening services and stakeholders to provide appropriate cancer screening services for their local populations, including the promotion of local screening services.

The NHS bowel screening programme currently reports weekly returns to the Department. We are working with the Information Centre to develop a framework for the annual publication of statistics related to the programme once roll-out is completed in December 2009.