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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Bowel cancer screening age lowered to 55 in Wales

Bowel cancer screening will be made available to more people in Wales as home testing is expanded to include 55-57 year olds. 

The expansion will mean 172,000 more people in Wales will start to receive easy to use kits that test for the early stages of bowel cancer. The move is part of a phased approach to lowering the screening age to 50 by October 2024. 

People aged 55, 56 and 57 will start to be invited for screening from tomorrow, October 5 and will receive their home testing kits in the post. The programme will be rolled out to the newly eligible age group gradually over the next 12 months. 

Part of a £16 million investment package by the Welsh Government, the funding has supported the introduction the new, easier to use, FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test) at home testing kit. The new home testing kits have helped improve screening uptake to 65% and have improved sensitivity to better detect those at risk of bowel cancer. 

More than 2,500 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2019. Screening plays an important role in detecting cancer earlier and helps to improve cancer outcomes in Wales. 

The lowering of the screening age is based on the recommendation by the UK National Screening Committee. 

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."

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