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The report provides screening statistics for the first screening round of the programme’s operation (2012 – 2015).
During this period, BowelScreen invited 488,628 eligible people to participate in the programme with a total of 196,238 people screened and 521 cancers detected. This resulted in a screening uptake rate of 40.2 per cent and a cancer detection rate of 2.65 per 1,000 people screened.
Commenting on the first screening round of BowelScreen, Mr Charles O’Hanlon, Head of Screening at the National Screening Service, said: “During the first screening round, 521 cancers were detected, three out of four cases at an early stage with a corresponding high survival rate. Almost 13,000 adenomas were also removed during the first screening round. Adenomas are abnormal tissue growths that can become cancerous at a later stage. The removal of adenomas greatly reduces the possibility of subsequent cancer development, making BowelScreen a truly lifesaving programme.
“While there have been challenges in establishing a new population screening programme, this report demonstrates that BowelScreen is detecting and treating bowel cancers and pre-cancerous changes at an early stage. BowelScreen is saving lives. There is more we can do to learn and improve uptake rates as we move forward; however it is important to acknowledge the successes of the programme to date.”
The report reveals a low uptake of screening with just 40 per cent of eligible men and women participating in the programme. The uptake for women was higher than men (44.1 per cent compared to 36.4 per cent) yet the cancer detection rate among men was double that of women.
Prof Diarmuid O’Donoghue, Clinical Director of BowelScreen, said: “Low uptake of screening is worrying given bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in this country. We are particularly concerned about men, given that the cancer detection rate among males is twice as high as it is for females. It is so important that the men of Ireland take control of their health and do the test. It is a very quick, easy-to-use test that can be carried out in the privacy of your own home. It takes just minutes and most results are normal.”
Prof O’Donoghue continued: “Going forward, BowelScreen is committed to making continual improvements in the quality of the programme and in increasing uptake. Although, there remain a number of years before the programme is fully embedded and delivering to its maximum potential, it is clear from the results above that a strong foundation has been created, upon which to build further success.”
Anyone aged 60 to 69 can register for BowelScreen online at www.bowelscreen.ie or by calling the Freephone number 1800 45 45 55.
Brief overview of performance, from 22 October 2012 to 31 December 2015 (first screening round):
• BowelScreen invited 488,628 people for screening
• 196,238 people took up the invitation, resulting in a screening uptake rate of 40.2 per cent
• Uptake of screening for females was higher than in males (44.1 per cent compared to 36.4 per cent)
• 8,062 people attended for a colonoscopy
• 521 cancers were detected, giving an overall cancer detection rate of 2.65 per 1,000 people screened
• There were 355 colon cancers, 159 rectal cancers and seven cases of cancer where the site was unconfirmed
• Over 71 per cent of all cancers detected were stage I or II, meaning that disease was detected at an early stage and therefore, easier to treat
• In addition, approximately 13,000 pre-cancerous adenomas were removed.