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Bowel cancer: experts advise against routine testing for everyone over 50

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 03 October 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l5829

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Colorectal cancer screening with faecal immunochemical testing, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy

  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

A panel of international experts has recommended against routine testing of everyone aged 50-79 for bowel (colorectal) cancer, advising that only those at higher risk should be considered for screening.1

The advice comes as part of a BMJ Rapid Recommendation, which looked at current guidelines and evidence. It concluded that screening should be recommended for men and women with a risk of 3% or more in the next 15 years, as this is the point at which the balance of benefits and harms tilts in favour of screening.

Most guidelines recommend screening for everyone from age 50, irrespective of their individual risk. At this age the risk of developing bowel cancer over the next 15 years is typically 1-2%, meaning that, in a group …

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