For the very first time, the monitor of the bowel cancer screening programme shows that the programme is able to detect bowel cancers more successfully than anticipated. Participation numbers in the first, and follow-up, screening rounds also remained good.
As participants are invited to the screening programme once every two years, there is a small chance of bowel cancer developing before the follow-up test, despite the test results of the first round being negative. When the programme started, it was calculated that the stool test would detect about 75% of all the participants with bowel cancer. This percentage now appears to be higher for the 2014 participants. In that year, the stool test detected 85% of the participants with bowel cancer in the first round.
After the first round of screening, the number of people continuing to participate in subsequent rounds was high (75.1%). This continuing participation in the screening programme is vital if polyps or cancers are to be detected at an early stage. As expected, fewer (polyps of) colorectal cancer were found in the second round.
Last year, in 2017, 1,411,998 (72.7%) of the individuals who were invited took part in the bowel screening programme. After follow-up testing, bowel cancer was discovered in 4,203 of these. Some 23,220 participants had possible polyps of bowel cancer removed. By removing these polyps, bowel cancer can be prevented. If bowel cancer is detected early, it is more likely that treatment is successful and, if treatment is required, it is often less arduous.
The responsibility for population screening programme for colorectal cancer falls under the remit of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Erasmus MC and the NKI/Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, on behalf of RIVM, carry out the annual monitoring of the bowel cancer screening programme in order to assess and improve its quality.