NICE Guidelines Set to Reduce Unnecessary Colonoscopies

By Danélia Botes

September 21, 2023

A New Era for Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has released new guidance that could spare tens of thousands of people the need for a colonoscopy each year. The updated guidelines recommend offering people with signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer a home test using quantitative faecal immunochemical tests (FIT).

These tests, which measure the amount of blood in the faeces, could lead to faster diagnoses and fewer referrals to secondary care for unnecessary colonoscopies. This shift in approach would allow colonoscopy services to focus on the patients who need them most, improving both patient care and healthcare efficiency.

Positive Impact on the NHS and Patient Care

The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has already implemented the approach recommended by NICE. They found that they detected more cancers using fewer colonoscopies, which is beneficial for both patients and the NHS.

Mark Chapman, interim director of medical technology and digital evaluation at NICE, said the new recommendations could help around 100,000 people avoid unnecessary colonoscopies. Furthermore, it will free up waiting lists to diagnose those more likely to have colorectal cancer.

Genevieve Edwards, chief executive at Bowel Cancer UK, added that the new guidance would help GPs identify and refer the right patients for further testing quickly, potentially detecting bowel cancer at an earlier stage when it is more treatable and curable.

With colorectal cancer being the fourth most common cancer in the UK, these new guidelines represent a significant step forward in managing its diagnosis and treatment.

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