Bowel cancer screening halves emergency admissions, cuts deaths

December 2nd, 2007 - 12:08 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 2 (ANI): A pilot site has revealed that bowel cancer screening halves emergency admissions for the disease and significantly cuts death rates.

The figures refer to tests carried out in Coventry and Warwickshire in the Midlands.

In the study, the feasibility of bowel cancer was screened for those aged 50 to 69 years, using postal tests that picked up hidden traces of blood in the stool (faecal occult blood tests).

Blood in the stool is a cardinal sign of cancerous and pre-cancerous changes in the bowel.

The research team tracked the number of emergency admissions for, and deaths within 30 days from, bowel. The timeframe spanned from 1999, a year before the pilot began, to 2004, when the programme had been running for five years.

During the entire period, 1236 new cases of bowel cancer were diagnosed, equating to 200 cases a year.

In 1999, just under 30 percent of bowel cancer patients had to be admitted as an emergency. By 2004, this figure had fallen to just under 16percent.

As a result, the number of emergency operations required halved, and the number of patients dying within 30 days also fell.

In 1999 almost half of those undergoing emergency surgery died. By 2004, this figure had fallen to just 13 percent.

The number of Dukes C or stage 3 relatively advanced bowel cancers also fell from 38 in 1999 to 16 in 2004, although the proportion of these cases requiring emergency care remained the same.

The researchers of the study conclude that bowel cancer screening is effective, yet take-up of the test among those who are eligible appears to be falling.

They said that it is important that patients and their family doctors are aware of the benefits of screening.

The findings will be published in the journal Gut. (ANI)

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