BowelScreen – The National Bowel Screening Programme is a new, government-funded screening programme.
The programme will offer a BowelScreen home test kit to women and men aged 60 to 69 every two years.
Overtime the programme will be expanded until the full 55 to 74 age group is reached. To develop the capacity to cater for the full 55 to 74 age group, the programme will be implemented on a phased basis, starting with men and women aged 60 to 69. To date over 130,000 men and women have been invited.
The BowelScreen programme is delivered by the National Screening Service. The National Screening Service also provides BreastCheck - The National Breast Screening Programme and CervicalCheck - The National Cervical Screening Programme.
Bowel cancer is also known as colon, rectal or colorectal cancer. The bowel screening test looks for tiny amounts of blood which are not visible to the eye. Bowel screening does not tell if there is bowel cancer but it might tell that more tests are needed. for more details on Bowelscreen go to http://www.bowelscreen.ie/
About the BowelScreen programme
The primary goal of BowelScreen – the national bowel screening programme, run by the National Screening Service (NSS), is to reduce mortality from colorectal cancer in men and women aged 55-74 in Ireland. A two page fact-sheet for health professionals about BowelScreen is available for download here.
The BowelScreen colorectal screening programme will offer free screening to men and women aged 55-74 on a two-yearly cycle. To develop capacity for the full population, the programme will be implemented on a phased basis, starting with men and women aged 60-69. Over 130,000 have already been invited since start of the programme (May 2014). This age group has the highest incidence of cancer within the wider age range. The maximum benefit in terms of reduction in mortality and cost-effectiveness will occur when the programme targets the full 55-74 age population.
Eligible men and women who indicate they wish to take part in the screening programme will be sent a screening test kit called a faecal immunochemical test (FIT). The test looks for the presence of blood, that is not visible to the eye, in the bowel motion.
The simple and easy-to-use test kit will include step-by-step instructions for self-administration of the test at home. The completed test can then be sent by Freepost to an accredited laboratory for analysis.
Approximately 94 per cent of people will receive a normal test result and will be sent another home test kit in two years’ time while they remain within the eligible age range.
Five to six per cent of people will receive a not normal result following the home test kit and will require an additional test.
They will be offered a screening colonoscopy (an investigation of the lining of the bowel) at a hospital-based screening colonoscopy unit contracted by the NSS to provide this service.
Each person will be contacted by a nurse, who will assess the person’s suitability for colonoscopy and then guide them through the colonoscopy process. In the event that further treatment or surgery is required, defined pathways have been developed in conjunction with the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP).
Each person will give their GP's details when they indicate they wish to take part in the programme. The GP will be sent copies of their client's correspondence with the BowelScreen programme - here is more information about the BowelScreen journey.
The NSS would like to express its continued appreciation for the role of GPs and the wider primary care community in supporting our screening programmes. With the support of the primary care community, the NSS is confident that BowelScreen can make a very real difference to the health of people in Ireland.