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DIY screening spots 192 new cancer cases

A DIY health screening programme in Tallaght uncovered 192 cases of colon cancer or pre-cancerous tumours.

The pioneering bowel cancer screening programme found evidence of the disease in 20pc of the participants in the Tallaght area over the past two years.

Nearly 10,000 people aged between 50 and 74 were invited to use a home test and return for analysis.

Consultant gastroenterologist at Tallaght, Prof Colm O Morain, said it was encouraging that 51pc of people had responded to the invitation.

After the checks, 400 colonoscopies were undertaken that resulted in 154 pre-cancerous tumours and 38 cancerous lesions being detected.

Rates of this particular form of cancer in Ireland are among the highest in Europe.

Each year, over 2,000 new cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed and on average 925 people die from the disease.

But early identification is key in the diagnosis of the cancer and follow-up treatment can take place immediately.

Some 21pc of those tested had an advanced stage of the disease, which would have gone undetected if the participants had not volunteered to partake in the screening.

A total of 99 participants were found to have benign polyps, which had the potential to turn cancerous if not removed, while another 55 had hyperplastic polyps considered unlikely to become malignant.


Participants in the programme had to provide samples of bowel movements which were then analysed for traces of blood. If blood was detected, they were offered a colonoscopy.

Most of those who volunteered said that they had no symptoms of the disease and if it wasn't for the bowel screening programme, they would have never known.

Where patients were diagnosed with bowel cancer, all are still alive and some are now undergoing treatment.

Prof O Morain estimates that practically all colorectal cancer can be prevented or cured if early-stage cancers are detected and removed.

Separately, Minister for Health Mary Harney announced that a national bowel cancer screening programme is to start on a phased basis from 2012 with the aim of saving around 300 lives a year.