Findings from a large pilot study on a novel bowel cancer-screening test showed it could increase the number of participants across population groups. These results will be presented by researchers from Queen Mary University of London and the Bowel Cancer Screening Hubs during the Cancer Research UK’s early diagnosis conference take will take place in London.
The Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) is able to detect cancers and pre-cancers, revealing nearly two times more adherence compared to the current screening test, guaiac fecal occult blood test (gFOBt).
The pilot study involved over 40,000 people from the northwest, midlands and the south of England and showed that patients older than 60 years of age who were invited to participate for the first time also had increased adherence rates, representing an uptake from 54.4% to 63.9%.
This trend was also observed across different age ranges and socioeconomic backgrounds, especially among deprived populations.
Compared to gFOBt, which requires three stool samples, FIT only requires one and comes in an easy-return postal package utilizing a simple and clean sampling method. The test is able to examine even low concentrations of stool from pre-colon cancers and bleeding colon tumors, independent of dietary restrictions. FIT has been recently adopted in Scotland, and is has also been added to the recommendations of the European Guideline for colorectal cancer screening.
Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK’s director of early diagnosis, stated in a recent press release: “These results provide real encouragement that FIT can further improve our ability to increase screening uptake and detect bowel cancer early. Cancer Research UK recommends that each nation’s bowel screening programme should combine Bowel Scope Screening — also known as flexible sigmoidoscopy — with FIT. We know that Scotland has already committed to upgrading their screening programme, and we urge the other UK nations to do the same without delay.”
Deborah Alsina, chief executive, Bowel Cancer UK concluded press release: “Currently only around half of those invited take part in the NHS bowel cancer screening programme, meaning opportunities to detect cancer early are being lost. These exciting results clearly show that introducing the FIT test as part of the screening programme could help address that. Both by increasing participation and detecting more bowel cancers. We therefore urge England, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow Scotland’s lead and rapidly commit to implementation. It will save lives and help us stop bowel cancer.”