1,100 bowel dis­ease cases spot­ted late

Daily Mail - - News - By Ben Spencer Med­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent

AS MANY as 1,100 cases of bowel cancer are di­ag­nosed late in Eng­land each year due to NHS staff short­ages, ex­perts claim.

Screen­ing tests were made to be less sen­si­tive so that staff have fewer fol­low-up pa­tients, say Cancer Re­search UK an­a­lysts.

Since 2018, the NHS in Eng­land has sent bowel cancer screen­ing tests through the post ev­ery two years to those aged 50 to 74.

Medics look for high lev­els of haemoglobi­n, a pro­tein in blood, in stool sam­ples. English pa­tients are called in if there is more than 120 mi­cro­grams of haemoglobi­n per gram of sam­ple. But in Scot­land, peo­ple are called in if there is more than 80 mi­cro­grams – mak­ing it more likely that they will be called in for fur­ther tests such as colono­scopies.

Cancer Re­search UK says English of­fi­cials set the bar higher be­cause they do not have enough staff to process the ex­tra tests. If they used the same thresh­olds as in Scot­land, 24,000 more peo­ple would be called in for fur­ther tests each year in Eng­land.

Sara Hiom of Cancer Re­search UK said there should be ‘sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment’ to fill va­can­cies, adding: ‘We’re con­cerned that NHS staff short­ages are hav­ing a di­rect im­pact on the abil­ity to di­ag­nose more pa­tients at an early stage – some­thing that the Gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted to do­ing last year.’ About 16,300 peo­ple die from bowel cancer in the UK each year.

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