Janet Finch-Saunders MS, the Member of the Welsh Parliament for Aberconwy, has urged the Welsh Government to fast track access to free bowel cancer screening for men and women aged between 50 and 59, following the revelation that phased age expansion will not be completed until 2024-25.
The revelation came via a substantive answer from the Minister for Health and Social Services, provided following several Written Questions submitted by Mrs Finch-Saunders. Expert advice of the UK National Screening Committee (UKNSC) currently recommends routine bowel screening for men and women aged between 50 and 74.
Bowel Screening Wales currently sends a screening kit to men and women aged 60 to 74 every two years, with the Welsh Government committed to a phased age expansion of the programme. Researchers from Cardiff University and Cancer Research UK, who ran a recent study, are calling for national campaigns to encourage people to take part in screening.
Speaking of the need to review the proposed timetable, Janet said:
“Given that a recent Cardiff University-led UK-wide survey has found that more than 1 in 5 people are less likely to take part in cancer screening than before the pandemic, the Welsh Government must take the initiative to ensure that the public are not storing up problems to be dealt with later on.
“By reviewing the proposed timetable for expanding the programme, the Welsh Government can start to confront the backlog and begin to offer people a timely diagnosis and the personalised care that they need.
“To allow this expansion programme to span up to three years fails to recognise that bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK. It’s treatable and curable, especially when diagnosed early, but we will continue to let residents down if this programme is not rolled out sooner.
“In the meantime, I urge anyone with symptoms to contact their GP and for people to attend their diagnostic and treatment appointments.”
Notes to Editors:
- Please find a copy of the Minister’s substantive answer attached.
- Please find Janet’s Written Questions by clicking here and here.
Photo: Janet Finch-Saunders MS/AS