Revolutionary Cervical and Bowel Cancer Test Mooted to Reduce Deaths

The UK National Screening Committee has updated its recommended procedures for screening programmes for bowel and cervical cancer.

This latest decision has been based on information provided by independent experts in a series of reviews.

As a result of this process, it is recommended that an updated test is carried out in order to introduce the bowel screening program.

Medical professionals are also recommended to adjust the order of cervical screening tests that are carried out on patient samples.

The switch would see human papillomavirus (HPV) testing as the initial test for cervical screening, with only samples that test positive checked for abnormal cells.

Commenting on the new procedures, Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, described the development of the screening process. “very important and positive”.

“Now I would urge all the governments of the UK to commit to rolling them out as quickly as possible, as Scotland has already pledged to do with the new bowel screening test FIT,” Kumar stated.

“The UK’s bowel and cervical cancer screening programmes are crucial in reducing cancer deaths, and research shows that the changes to these new tests will make them even more effective,” Kumar continued.

This new procedure will see the existing process be replaced completely, if indeed it is implemented.

The faecal occult blood test (FOBT) – currently used in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme – will this be superseded by the newer faecal immunochemical test (FIT).

It is hoped that by implementing this new state-of-the-art process that there will be increased opportunities to detect and ultimately prevent more cancers.

With this new procedure being considered superior to the existing arrangements, Scotland has already pledged to adopt the test in February 2015.

Both FOBT and FIT detect traces of blood in a person’s stool, which can be a sign of cancer.

But the FIT test is considered superior, particularly as it makes it easier to assess the faeces of participants via a single sample.

And the recommendations of the approach also cite evidence that screening for HPV before conducting any other process can be more effective in identifying those women at risk of developing cervical cancer.

Several other techniques were also considered by the regulatory committee before deciding upon the new FIC process.

The Committee’s Dr Anne Mackie said the latest recommendations has been based on internationally recognised criteria, and also been subjected to a rigorous evidence review and consultation process.

There are nearly 1,000 deaths from cervical cancer every year in the UK, while bowel cancer is far more common, accounting for over 16,000 people every year.


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