Julian Sturdy, Member of Parliament for York Outer, has welcomed the government’s decision to lower the screening age for the NHS bowel cancer programme from 60 to 50, following calls for this from him and many others.
The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has accepted the recommendation of the expert National Screening Committee that screening should now be offered from ages 50 to 74, 10 years lower than the current programme which covers people aged 60 to 74. Screening will now be done via the new FIT (faecal immunochemical testing for haemoglobin) home test kit, due to be rolled out from the autumn.
Ministers have now directed NHS England and Public Health England to put together an implementation plan for this extension to ensure the health service has the capacity to deliver it. These improvements will be considered as part of the government’s new 10-year plan for the NHS, which prioritises improving cancer outcomes, backed by a funding increase of £20.5 billion a year by 2023.
Bowel cancer is responsible for the deaths of some 16,000 people a year, and is the fourth-most common cancer in the UK. If detected early on it can be effectively treated, with patients making a full recovery, which means having the right provision for early diagnosis is very important
Julian Sturdy has been active in lobbying the government on this, asking Theresa May to listen to proposals to lower the screening age from 60 to 50 at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on 23rd May, stressing the importance of catching the disease earlier through better diagnosis. He also added his voice to cross-party calls to lower the screening age, and improve testing more broadly, in a parliamentary debate earlier that month.
After learning of the announcement, Mr Sturdy said: “I am delighted to hear the Health Secretary has decided to lower the bowel cancer screening age, listening to calls from me and many other people.
This extension provides greater certainty and security for families in York and right across the country. We can move to limit the terrible impact of this cancer by catching it sooner.
I am very encouraged that the lower screening age and new FIT test are being considered as part of the government’s long-term NHS plan, backed with significant new funding. I will continue to monitor the roll-out of these new arrangements on behalf of York residents.”