The latest on screening programs in Wales

The present proposed guidelines for Bowel Cancer screening programmes in Wales have been outlined by the Welsh Assembly:

Bowel Screening Wales – click here.

Health Commission Wales will receive almost £3.2 million from the Welsh Assembly Government for the phased implementation of a national bowel cancer screening programme in Wales.

The funding for 2007-08 will enable Velindre NHS Trust to start planning the roll out for the service in April, with routine screening for men and women between the ages of 50 and 74 likely to begin towards the end of 2008-09.  The screening will take place every two years.

Announcing the bowel cancer screening programme at the Wales Against Cancer Conference, Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons, said: “Bowel cancer is one of Wales’ biggest killers. The risk of developing bowel cancer increases with age, with more than 90 per cent of cases in people over 50.

“Early and effective diagnosis is essential in identifying those people who are at risk of developing bowel cancer or detecting it earlier.

“Health Commission Wales has been working hard for some time to work out the cost of delivering bowel cancer screening services as part of our overall efforts to reduce the incidence of cancer in Wales. This new service is expected to reduce mortality from bowel cancer by 15 per cent in the screened population.

“We currently have two very successful national cancer screening programmes in Wales. Breast Test Wales screens by automatic invitation those women aged between 50 and 70, every three years. Cervical Screening Wales invites women between the ages of 20 and 64 for a routine test, every three years. Both these programmes save lives.

“Tackling cancer and improving cancer services is one of the Assembly Government’s top health commitments. Our main strategy for improving cancer services is through the progressive implementation of the National Cancer Standards and Designed to Tackle Cancer in Wales. These outline the services a patient can expect and highlight how services will be transformed over the next 10 years to focus on more prevention, earlier detection, improved access and better services.

“Key to this is the emphasis we place on prevention through encouraging healthier lifestyles and highlighting how people’s actions can have an impact on their long-term health. As with many other cancers, the risk of developing bowel cancer can be reduced by having a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and regular exercise.

“Investment in new technology with CT and MRI scanners are helping to speed up and improve diagnosis which is resulting in better outcomes for patients.”

The Minister said that the Welsh Assembly Government is in discussions with the NHS to set up a Wales-based service to enable patients with localised prostate cancer to access low-dose brachytherapy as well as the two other current treatments – wide-beam radiotherapy and surgery.

“I am determined to reduce the incidence of cancer across Wales and to improve the quality of cancer services. Through more prevention, early diagnosis and effective treatment we will achieve this.”