New blood tests to be offered to bowel cancer survivors

Patients in Swansea who have recovered from bowel cancer and are on NHS waiting lists for colonoscopies will be the first in the UK to be offered pioneering blood tests.

Funded by Wales-based Moondance Cancer Initiative – who have provided more than £160K – scientists are now set to offer 200 people in Swansea the test to check the disease has not returned.

However, health experts are claiming patients who receive the blood tests will also have a follow-up colonoscopy, inserting a tiny camera into a person to check their insides, after a given period, although delays caused by the pandemic means many people will have to wait longer than usual.

The 200 patients are due to be selected over the coming months and if the tests are effective, the hope is that the project can be developed elsewhere in Wales – a move welcomed by cancer patients and cancer charities. Leading cancer charities have called the development a ‘positive step’.

The Swansea project involves using nanotechnology to screen patients with a blood test, reducing the need for current diagnostic tests such as a colonoscopy. The test uses a laser-based blood analysis procedure called Raman spectroscopy to create a ‘fingerprint’ specific to bowel cancer.

Professor Dean Harris, the Singleton Hospital Colorectal Surgeon who is leading the blood test project, claims access to colonoscopies had come under the spotlight during the pandemic.

Following this, Professor Harris said: ‘It has only really been possible to do colonoscopies on patients who are suspected of having cancer – those that have come through the GP route, the urgent suspected cancer pathway.

‘There are about 4,000 patients in Swansea Bay alone who have been waiting years for a follow-up colonoscopy after they’ve had bowel cancer or polyps removed.

‘Guidelines say they need to have a check colonoscopy done, sometimes a year later, sometimes three years later.

‘But all that activity stopped in the pandemic, and now there’s a huge backlog, not just in Swansea, but everywhere in Wales and the UK.’

‘These patients still can’t get appointments unless they are developing symptoms and then they get expediated.’ he said, ‘And we know that there are people forming cancers while they are on the waiting list and coming to harm.’

According to recent research, bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer, and the second biggest cancer killer, in Wales. Every year more than 2,200 people across Wales are diagnosed with the disease.

Photo by bales


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top