Bowel cancer screening age lowered to 55 in Wales

Bowel cancer home testing in Wales is to be available to more people as the screening age is lowered to 55.

As a result, 172,000 people will have access to at-home kits that test for the early stages of bowel cancer.

It is intended for the screening age to be lowered to 50 by October 2024.

From 5th October, those aged 55-57 will be invited for screening and will receive kits in the post. The screening will be rolled out to the newly eligible over the next year.

The use of at-home testing kits has improved the screening rate to 65 per cent.

Minister for health and social services, Eluned Morgan said: "It is great to see the next phase of our plan to widen access to bowel cancer screening come into effect.

"We have previously introduced the more user-friendly test and started inviting those aged 58-59. This next phase of the programme widens access to those aged 55-57.

"This move will help us to identity more bowel cancer cases early and support improvement in survival rates.

"I’m also pleased to see that more people are taking part in the programme and that the uptake rate now meets the expected standard.
"In future, we plan to continue to optimise the programme by lowering the age range to 50 and increasing the sensitivity of the test until we come into line with UK recommendations."

Genevieve Edwards, chief executive at Bowel Cancer UK says: "This is a step in the right direction towards screening from 50 in Wales, which we’ve long campaigned for. Screening is one of the best ways to diagnose bowel cancer early, or in some cases prevent it from developing in the first place, and so inviting more people to take part is welcomed.

"Offering the home test to more people is just one of the ways to improve bowel screening, however, the biggest barrier to improving early diagnosis, and offering a world-class screening programme, is the long-standing workforce shortage in endoscopy and pathology services. We now urgently need to address this through a comprehensive workforce plan that can support the bowel cancer screening programme in Wales to achieve its full potential."


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