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Lukewarm response for colon cancer screening programme

Seven people have been diagnosed in Gibraltar with colon related cancers through a screening programme that has yielded ‘disappointing’ response rates as participants fail to return their test kits.

The Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme has screened 3,187 samples and found seven cancers since its inception in 2014.

But less than half of those invited participate in the screening programme.

According to the Gibraltar Health Authority colon cancer is the most common cancer in Gibraltar and the third leading cause of cancer deaths, with around 10 people dying from the illness annually.

Locally the response rate for colorectal screening is 44%, much lower compared to the UK’s 60% rate.

Typically those invited for screening by the GHA are aged between 60 and 74. The invitation is attached to a test kit called the Faecal Occult Blood kit that can be returned to the hospital laboratory for analysis.

Those screened must return three stool samples to the Pathology Department.

Between January and Mach 2016 1,076 test kits were sent and 365 samples were returned, and during this period the programme found two people had cancer and 18 people had adenomas – a benign tumour.

The lack of response has been pegged by the GHA as participant confusion about how to use the kits.

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