The purpose of colorectal cancer screening is to detect and treat the disease as early as possible, since survival rates significantly drop with a later stage diagnosis.
Currently the following screening options are available:
1) NHS “Two-week“ urgent GP referral to a specialist for suspected colorectal cancer.*
2) NHS colorectal cancer screening programme: *
NHS Faecal Immunochemical test (FIT) for patients aged 60+ yrs – frequency: every 2 years FIT, also often called blood-in-stool test, is a noninvasive screening test that will detect blood from the lower bowel in the stools, which may indicate colorectal cancer. However, blood in the stool may also be caused by other health conditions such as inflammation, ulcers, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) or haemorrhoids. Furthermore, not all colorectal polyps, especially in early stages and right-sided ones, will bleed permanently or at all.
3) ColoAlert® stool DNA test
for patients aged 45+ yrs – frequency: every 3 years. Currently not available on the NHS, but accessible privately. ColoAlert® is a non-invasive and highly sensitive stool DNA test for the early detection of colorectal cancer. It specifically screens for mutations in bowel cell DNA, that indicate cancer growth rather than an undefined source of blood alone. In addition, the ColoAlert® kit quantifies the amount of human DNA and haemoglobin for a more comprehensive screening profile.
* National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (updated 2017) Suspected cancer: recognition and referral NICE guideline [NG12], June 2015.
* Public Health England and NHS England Public Health Commissioning. NHS public health functions agreement 2018-19. Service specification no. 26. Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. September 2018