Bowel cancer screening provides insight into other illnesses

18 July 2018 07:59

Bowel cancer screening could help identify other illnesses

Bowel cancer screening could help identify other illnesses

Bowel cancer screening tests could also provide an insight into whether patients are at risk of other illnesses, a new study has revealed.

Looking for "hidden" blood in stool samples is a method commonly used by doctors during bowel cancer screenings.

But a new study has revealed that when blood is found in a person's stool, in addition to bowel cancer they also have an increased risk of death from other diseases.

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme offers screening every two years to all men and women aged between 60 and 74.

Increased risk

The home screening is performed through the faecal occult blood (FOB) test that looks for hidden blood in stools from polyps and bowel cancers, which cannot always be seen.

Researchers examined data on more than 130,000 people who took part in guaiac faecal occult blood test and their increased risk of death from bowel cancer and other diseases.

Their study, published in the journal Gut, examined data on 134,192 patients from Tayside, Scotland, between 2000 and 2016.

Their results were then linked to mortality data from the National Records of Scotland database.

The 2,714 patients with a positive result had a significantly increased risk of dying from colorectal cancer than those with a negative result.

But they also had a 58% higher risk of death from other conditions.

Take action

Having a positive result was significantly associated with increased risk of dying from circulatory disease, respiratory disease, digestive diseases, excluding bowel cancer, neuropsychological disease, blood and endocrine disease.

The authors concluded that the presence of detectable blood in stool is "associated with increased risk of death from a wide range of causes".

Commenting on the study, Deborah Alsina, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer, said: "This interesting research highlights the importance of looking for hidden blood in your poo, which is routinely done as part of the bowel cancer screening programmes in the UK.

"We know that bowel cancer screening is key to preventing bowel cancer or diagnosing it early but finding ways to extend its benefit in people who test positive but don't have bowel cancer is really exciting.

"It also highlights the importance of taking part in bowel cancer screening when invited to do so or if you experience visible symptoms, please take action and tell your GP."

If you are living with bowel cancer and looking forward to travelling abroad this summer, take a look through our dedicated cancer travel insurance options and find the right level of protection for you.

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