Study: Start population screening for bowel cancer earlier

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Population screening seems to reduce colorectal cancer mortality

The Health Council recommends a one-off screening test in people aged approximately 50 years prior to the regular population screening for bowel cancer (from the age of 55). The Council is also positive about the current population screening: it seems to reduce colorectal cancer mortality, according to the initial estimate of the programme. The Council is writing this to the Minister of Health, Social Affairs and Sport.

Screening for colon cancer has been phased out from 2014 and since 2019 all people aged 55-75 have been invited to participate every two years. By 2021, more than 1.6 million people attended the screening and 2,700 participants were diagnosed with colon cancer and approximately 17,000 with precancerous lesions.

No change to the normal timetable

It is still too early to provide scientific evidence that population screening leads to a reduction in colorectal cancer mortality, but there are strong indications. In the current situation, the benefits (prevention of colorectal cancer and mortality from it) outweigh the risks of population screening (screening that finds nothing but a difficult and worrying screening test and cancers that are missed). The Council therefore advises not to make any changes to the regular program at this time.

The Council does, however, recommend that a regional pilot population study be carried out into a one-off population study among the over-50s to assess the extent to which the health benefits are being achieved and whether the benefits outweigh the risks. The results can be used to decide whether the age limit in the program should be lowered. A promising development that can improve population screening in the long term is tailor-made screening. The Council recommends investigating this. The Council also recommends continuing to invest in order to increase participation.

  • Author: editors
  • Source: Gezondheids Net

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