Almost 42,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK.
94% are diagnosed in people over the age of 50 and 59% are diagnosed in people aged 70 or over. But bowel cancer can affect anyone of any age. More than 2,500 new cases are diagnosed each year in people under the age of 50. One in 14 men and One in 19 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime.
Public Health England has announced that the age people are offered a test for bowel cancer will be dropped to 50, ensuring many who are potentially at risk will be caught before bowel cancer develops.
It’s currently offered for people in England aged 60-74 every two years, whereas those Scotland and Wales will be offered the test from age 50 from 2019.
There is a new test, the FIT (faecal immunochemical home test kit) test, which is used to detect and quantify the amount of human blood in a single stool sample. An abnormal result requires further investigation.
The latest recommendations will not delay the roll out of FIT, which is a priority.
The evidence shows that screening people at a younger age would enable more bowel cancers to be picked up at an earlier stage, where treatment is likely to be more effective and survival chances improved.
Bowel cancer means a cancer that starts in the colon (large bowel) or back passage (rectum). It is also known as colorectal cancer. Cancers can also occur in the small bowel (intestine).