Beating bowel cancer together

NICE recommends FIT for people at low risk of bowel cancer

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Today The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) is used in primary care in England to guide GP referral for those at low risk of bowel cancer.

FIT detects hidden quantities of blood in poo that could indicate bowel cancer. If blood is found, patients should be referred for further tests to establish a diagnosis. 

NICE has recommended FIT is used for people without obvious rectal bleeding but who present with unexplained bowel symptoms, therefore do not qualify for an urgent referral as a front line test. People who have a positive result will then be referred for a colonoscopy or other relevant test. It is hoped that using FIT in this way will help ensure people are not referred unnecessarily for invasive tests, like a colonoscopy.

This guidance will help GPs to better identify and refer the right patients for further testing quickly

Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive for Bowel Cancer UK, welcomes this guidance:

“Bowel cancer symptoms are common and can be easily attributed to less serious conditions. As a result those with low risk symptoms often face a delayed diagnosis or have to see their GP a number of times before being referred for further tests. This guidance will help GPs to better identify and refer the right patients for further testing quickly and could help detect bowel cancer at an earlier stage when it is more treatable and curable.

“Using FIT in this way will also help to reduce demand on endoscopy services that are already struggling to deal with the amount of people being referred for tests. However it is important that FIT should not be used as a replacement for colonoscopy but as a tool to better aid decisions on who should be referred. GPs will need to be supported to put the guidance into practice. We look forward to working with NICE and the clinical community to ensure this is done consistently throughout the country.”

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