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Bowel cancer screening cut off 'misses cases'

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In 2006, the NHS bowel cancer screening programme for England was introduced to find early tumours in people in their 60s and was extended last year to include people up to the age of 75. People who are eligible receive a faecal occult blood testing kit in the post that they complete and send off to the lab. A couple of weeks later they will receive a letter in the post about their results.

Every test result gives a value, saying how much blood can be detected. Currently, doctors set a cut off value of 100ng per ml to determine if the result is normal or abnormal. Test results reading higher than this level are deemed "abnormal" and mean the patient needs more investigation.

But Dr Chen's team found values below 100ng/ml, which would be classed as normal, could still provide a warning of imminent cancer, especially those falling just under this cut off.

I hope that the NHS will take note of these findings and lower the cut off point.

Patricia Wakeford

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

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