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Bowel cancer tool to boost diagnosis in under-50s

Published on 29 March 2017 back to previous

GPs have been given access to a new risk assessment tool to help diagnose young people at risk of bowel cancer.

Experts say people under 50 do not act on bowel cancer symptoms quickly enough and 20% have to visit a GP five times before being referred to a specialist.

The new tool will help calculate the risk of the disease based on blood tests, symptoms and a GP's examination.

Bowel Cancer UK told the Victoria Derbyshire programme all GPs should be given access to the "lifesaving" tool.

While 95% of bowel cancer cases occur in people over 50, more than 2,500 people under the age of 50 in the UK are diagnosed with the disease every year - a 45% rise since 2004.

The NHS provides testing for people between 60 and 74 every two years. But experts say when it comes to those under 50, people do not act on their symptoms quickly enough.

Urgent colonoscopy

The new risk assessment tool - which is based on research by University of Exeter and was funded by the Department of Health - calculates the risk of a serious disease as a percentage.

Those found to be at 3% risk or more of bowel cancer should be referred for an urgent colonoscopy, while those between 1% and 3% will be recommended for a faecal calprotectin test, to help diagnose conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Anyone found to be 1% risk or less will require no further tests.

The assessment tool was made available to GPs on the British Journal of General Practice website on Tuesday. Bowel Cancer UK says it now hopes to integrate it into GP practices.

Experts say the new tool is the first of its kind for younger people.

This article was sourced from BBC News.
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