Media & Press

New figures show UK is leading the way in detecting Bowel Cancer

New figures out today highlight the high quality of colonoscopy and pre-cancer detection rates since the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme was rolled out in 2006. The figures presented are to be presented at the British Society of Gastroenterology's Annual Meeting in Birmingham today.

About one in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime. It is the third most common cancer in the UK, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths, with over 16,000 people dying from it each year.[1] The bowel cancer screening programme invites all people between 60 and 74 years to complete a special stool testing kit at home every 2 years. Approximately 1 in 50 tests show traces of blood, prompting referral for a colonoscopy.

A study of 36,460 screening colonoscopies performed in England during August 2006 to August 2009 showed that polyps (growths which can turn cancerous) were detected in 46.5% of people attending for colonoscopy, significantly more than during the pilot programme. The polyps are removed during the colonoscopy, preventing them from turning cancerous. These figures have been achieved through rigorous training of colonoscopists and ensuring high standards are maintained through ongoing quality assurance measures.

Dr Matt Rutter says:

"Cancer survival rates in England have often been poor when compared with the best performing European countries. As early diagnosis is vital in terms of a patient's survival chances, these figures are very encouraging as we continually strive to improve our cancer screening services."

Professor Jon Rhodes, President of the British Society of Gastroenterology says:

"We've come a long way in improving screening and developing better treatments so today's figures are very encouraging. Bowel cancer is the UK's second biggest cancer killer, yet it is highly treatable if diagnosed early. "

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme started offering screening services in April 2006 and is now available across England. Screening details can be found here. Bowel cancer screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage when treatment is more likely to be effective.


The British Society of Gastroenterology's Annual meeting will be taking place 14-17th March, International Convention Centre, Birmingham.

The British Society of Gastroenterology is an organisation focused on the promotion of high standards for clinical services, research, training and education in gastroenterology and hepatology within the UK. It has over three thousand members drawn from the ranks of physicians, surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, scientists, nurses, dietitians, and others interested in the field. Founded in 1937 it has grown from a club to be a major force in British medicine.

For further information please contact:

Surinder Kaur Gill at Luther Pendragon on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 0207 618 9100 / 07940488253

[1] CancerResearch UK, 2005. Cancerstats