Latest News

Please view the latest news articles from across Europe below. Alternatively, filter by news category or search by keyword.

Bowel cancer test: 'No health minister' means NI people must wait

Published on 22 August 2017 back to previous

A new, more accurate screening test for bowel cancer is on hold in Northern Ireland because there is no Stormont health minister.

Bowel cancer is second only to lung cancer as the leading cause of death from the disease in both the UK and in Europe.

Up to 16,000 people in the UK die from the disease every year.

The new test is being rolled out in England, Scotland and Wales, but Northern Ireland is lagging behind.

The Department of Health said the UK recommendation for the new test was endorsed by the Northern Ireland Screening Committee in July.

Now it is up to a Northern Ireland health minister to consider it - when that minister is appointed.

"In the interim, the department and Public Health Agency will be taking forward the necessary preparatory work," a spokesperson for the Department of Health said.

Asha Kaur, policy and campaigns manager, Bowel Cancer UK, said the new test was much more accurate and also easier to complete than the current screening test.

Image copyright Bowel Cancer UK Image caption Ms Kaur said Northern Ireland had not committed to the new test

"This means we could potentially save more lives from bowel cancer," she said.

The Faecal Immunochemical Test - FIT - detects tiny amounts of blood in the stool just like the current screening test.

"Where the FIT test differs is in the way that it measures the level of blood whereas the current test indicates the presence of blood so FIT is far more accurate," she said.

"A key difference with FIT is that it requires only one sample rather than the three needed previously.

"The pilot found that FIT picks up twice as many cancers and four times as many advanced adenomas as the current screening test," she said.

"This is important because the more cancers we can pick up early, the more lives we can save. We know that cancers picked up through the screening are more likely to be early stage cancers. The earlier bowel cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat and the greater chance of survival."

Click here to read the full article sourced from

Registration No: 5314195 Registered Office: 92 Palatine Road, London N16 8ST.