Hundreds of patients asked to take part in developing bowel cancer blood test
Hundreds of patients are being asked to help trial a test that could detect or rule out bowel cancer without the need for hospital investigations.
The test could one day mean that people showing possible bowel cancer symptoms would no longer require a colonoscopy – using a tiny camera to check their insides – or a CT scan.
This latest study builds on award-winning research developed by experts at Swansea Bay University Health Board and Swansea University.
It will combine a new type of blood test created by the Swansea team with a test already widely available for bowel cancer screening.
And while the team may be based in Swansea, the study will involve around 800 patients from four South Wales health board areas and two regions in England.
Colorectal, or bowel, cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide, with 41,000 cases diagnosed in the UK every year.
Early diagnosis is hampered by the lack of “red flag” symptoms and patients often present either at a late stage of development or as an emergency, with reduced chances of survival.
Professor Dean Harris, Singleton Hospital consultant colorectal surgeon, is leading the research project.
“We have just finished analysing the results of the second trial and it was very successful.
“We found very good accuracy levels from the blood test and a really good reliability in ruling out cancer. If it’s ruled out then far fewer patients would need to be referred into hospital.
“They can be reassured by their GP that it isn’t cancer, and their symptoms can be treated by the GP.
“If the test does come back positive then the patient can be fast-tracked to have an urgent colonoscopy test.”