Innovative blood tests for patients with bowel cancer in Swansea

worker in a lab

In the UK, the first recipients of alternative ground-breaking blood tests will be those who have recovered from bowel cancer and are on waiting lists for colonoscopies on the NHS.  .

Scientists from Swansea Bay will make the test available to 200 locals to ensure that the disease has not returned. .

For those awaiting exams, the development has been hailed by top cancer charities as a "positive step.". .

The Welsh organization Moondance Cancer Initiative will pay for it.

Bowel cancer is a disease that is diagnosed in thousands of people each year in Wales.  .

Regular scans or colonoscopies are used to check on those who receive treatment and recover from the illness. .

Prof. Dean Harris, a colorectal surgeon at Swansea's Singleton hospital, hopes the blood test can be a quick, inexpensive substitute for those who are waiting. .

Only those patients who have gone through the GP route or the urgent suspected cancer pathway have actually been able to undergo colonoscopies, according to him.

"In Swansea Bay alone, there are about 4,000 patients who have been waiting years for a subsequent colonoscopy after having bowel cancer or polyps removed.

Guidelines state that they must undergo a check colonoscopy, sometimes a year or three years after the initial procedure.

But since the pandemic, all of that activity has ceased, and there is now a massive backlog across Wales and the UK, not just in Swansea.

"These patients are still unable to schedule appointments unless they start to exhibit symptoms at which point they are given priority.

And we are aware that some people on the waiting list endanger themselves by developing cancer.

"We want to assist in prioritizing which of those patients need to be moved up the list to have their test completed as soon as possible because, based on having the blood test done, they're more likely to have a cancer or a polyp present. ".

Over the coming months, the 200 selected patients will be invited.

The project may be expanded elsewhere in Wales if the tests are successful, which would be welcomed by cancer patients and cancer charities.

Recent Cardiff resident Paul Scanlon, who was diagnosed with cancer, declared that any development that can save lives and make checkups simpler is to be applauded. .

Paul Scanlon has had a stoma fitted since he was diagnosed with bowel cancer
Since being told he had bowel cancer, Paul Scanlon had a stoma fitted.

The 53-year-old noticed blood in his poop while he was preparing for the London Marathon. .

He quickly realized something was wrong after "putting off going to the doctor" for months and experiencing "chronic back pain". .

Cancer didn't even cross his mind, he claimed. .

He was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer and two sizable tumors in April 2022 after an endoscopy. .

I was completely devastated," he said, adding that for him and his family, the months that followed were "hell.". .

Mr. Scanlon, who will still require scans every six months for the ensuing five years, said he appreciates any scientific advancements that help survivors live better lives and experience less anxiety.

The nature of the colonoscopy, however, makes people hesitant to come forward, according to Lowri Griffiths of the cancer charity Tenovus. ".

The Welsh government says that it has established a national endoscopy program to "prioritize people waiting," and that it is also engaged in other activities like "training more clinicians who can perform endoscopy."

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