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Tallaght programme has potential to detect early stages of bowel cancer

15 Nov 2013

By Catherine Reilly

The Tallaght Hospital-Trinity College Dublin Bowel Cancer Screening team recently launched encouraging results from the second round of its programme, which is the first of its kind in Ireland.

The main finding affirmed the success of conducting a Faecal Immunology Test (FIT) and colonoscopy-based programme, which can detect early stages of bowel cancer in people with no symptoms of the condition. As with other cancers, the prognosis for patients is strongly linked to the state of the cancer when it is first diagnosed.

Of the 10,000 participants aged 50-74 years old from the local catchment area who were offered two rounds of screening during the pilot study, almost half availed of the opportunity. About 10 per cent of these patients returned an abnormal FIT test and proceeded to a colonoscopy.

Dr Deirdre McNamara, Associate Professor in Clinical Medicine at Trinity College Dublin and Interim Head of Clinical Medicine at Tallaght Hospital, said:  “In total, between the two rounds, over 700 screening colonoscopies have been performed and 21 colorectal cancers have been detected through the screening programme. A further 28 cancerous polyps were detected and successfully removed at the time of colonoscopy.”

She added: “Perhaps even more importantly, 262 polyps with pre-cancerous changes were detected which would have the potential to progress to colorectal cancer if not for the early intervention of the screening programme at Tallaght Hospital. Such patients have since entered surveillance programmes at Tallaght Hospital. This equates to cancer or polyp detection in 36 of 100 people undergoing a screening colonoscopy.”

The potential to employ new technologies — such as wireless PillCam colonoscopy and novel proteomic tests in bowel cancer and premalignant polyp screening — were also highlighted through their successful use in the pilot.

The Minister for Health Dr James Reilly attended the event. The Irish Cancer Society and Meath Foundation  were major sponsors of the programme.

15 November 2013

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times