The English Bowel Cancer Screening Pilot

The English Bowel Cancer Screening Pilot, based in Coventry and North Warwickshire, invited men and women for screening until the pilot finished in March 2007.

The objective of the English Colorectal (Bowel) Screening Pilot was to assess the feasibility of introducing into the NHS a national screening programme for colorectal (bowel) cancer based on faecal occult blood testing. The pilot took place in two English health authorities and three Scottish health boards. The participants were men and women aged 50-69 years.


478 250 residents of the pilot areas were invited to take part in the screening programme. Uptake (the proportion in whom a final faecal occult blood test result was available) was 56.8 per cent (n = 271 646). The overall rate of a positive test result was 1.9 per cent and the rate for detecting cancer was 1.62 per 1000 people screened. Both these values were higher in Scotland than in England, higher in men than in women, and increased with age. The positive predictive value was 10.9 per cent for cancer and 35.0 per cent for adenoma. 552 cancers were detected by screening; 92 (16.6 per cent) were polyp cancers. 48 per cent of all screen detected cancers were Dukes's stage A, and 1 per cent had metastasised at the time of diagnosis.

Following the pilot, the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme was introduced in England in July 2006.