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Cancer kit "may save 25,000 lives"

A national charity believes thousands of lives may be saved if people use bowel cancer testing kits which are being sent to homes throughout the UK.

People in England aged 60 to 69 are currently being sent the kits, with similar schemes also being rolled out in Scotland and Wales.

Cancer Research UK claims that if 80% of eligible people use the kit, up to 25,000 bowel cancer deaths can be prevented over the next 20 years.

The calculations have been published to coincide with a Cancer Research UK campaign, Screening Matters, which urges the government to get an extra three million people screened for breast, cervical and bowel cancer.

Around 35,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK, and more than 16,000 of those eventually die from the disease.

The kits, which are supplied in England by the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, require people to take three faecal samples at home and send them off for testing.

After they have been analysed, those people whose samples are found to contain blood will be invited to have a colonoscopy.

Professor Max Parkin, Cancer Research UK epidemiologist at the Wolfson Institute in London, said: "Our research looked at a realistic scenario where uptake is about 60%, and compared those results with an optimistic scenario where uptake could rise to 80%. In both cases thousands of deaths could be prevented."

Cancer Research UK

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