Beating bowel cancer together

NICE recommends FIT be used for triaging patients

NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has published draft guidance recommending FIT (the faecal immunochemical test) be used to triage people with symptoms who are at a low risk of bowel cancer in the NHS in England.

The draft guidance is now open for consultation until 8 December after which the committee will meet again to consider the evidence and comments that have been submitted before preparing its final recommendation to be published April 2017.

Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive, Bowel Cancer UK said:

“The draft NICE guidance to recommend FIT for those with low risk bowel symptoms is hugely important for the diagnosis of bowel cancer and we welcome the recommendation for the following reasons:

  • FIT could help GPs determine which patients are at greatest risk of bowel cancer and should be referred for further testing. We know that bowel cancer can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are vague and often symptoms of other common bowel conditions.  This can make it difficult for GPs to determine who to refer for diagnostic tests.
  • FIT could help cut down the number of times patients have to see their GPs. Our research shows that patients often have to see their GP many times before being referred for diagnostic tests, resulting in many people being diagnosed in the later stages of the disease when it is more difficult to treat and the chance of survival is high or being diagnosed in emergency care where survival rates for bowel cancer are poorest.
  • Alleviate pressures of endoscopy services. Demand for endoscopy has been increasing at a dramatic rate – over the next five years demand is set to nearly double. However, there is a lack of capacity to meet this increasing demand. By reducing the number of people referred unnecessarily, we can cut down on some of the demand.

The introduction of FIT as a triage tool for people with low risk but not no risk symptoms would be a real opportunity to direct scarce endoscopy resource to those who would most benefit, could help to alleviate pressures on endoscopy resource, cut down referrals for investigation of the symptomatic presenting in primary care and, for patients, rule out the possibility of cancer quickly.”

Read the full recommendation on the NICE website

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