The Department of Health would like to remind all those aged 60-75 years, who are invited to participate in the bowel screening programme, of the correct method for collecting the screening samples.
Those invited to participate in the bowel screening programme receive a specimen card by post. The card has three flaps, each with two windows; participants are advised to get specimens from three separate bowel motions to fill both windows in each from same sample, in each of the three flaps.
The Department understands that some participants may be taking all the samples from one bowel motion. This will considerably reduce the accuracy of the test; if samples are taken from three separate bowel motions, the accuracy of the test is over 90%; however if all the samples are taken from the same bowel motion, the accuracy drops to less than 30%.
Dr Parameswaran Kishore, Director of Public Health said: “Bowel screening is an important method to detect cancers early. I would like to encourage everyone who receives the invitation to ensure that they participate in the programme and carefully follow the detailed instructions for collection of the specimen which accompanies the specimen card.”
Mr Giovanni Tebala, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at Noble’s Hospital, said: “Bowel screening detects cancers early so that they can be treated early leading to less extensive surgery and higher chances of cure. The most recent screening uptake statistics show that nearly 65% of those invited, take part. The screening not only detects cancers but also polyps, a large proportion of which can become cancer later. Screening detected 38 polyps in the last two years. Once the polyps are removed the risk is negligible. I encourage everyone who receives the test kit to participate in the programme and to ensure that they follow the correct procedures for collecting specimens.”