The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has recommended the use of home tests for people with signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer to reduce waiting times for a colonoscopy.
In a draft guidance released for consultation, NICE’s diagnostic advisory committee recommended the use of the HM-JACKarc or OC-Sensor quantitative faecal immunochemical tests (FIT).
The amount of blood in the faeces is measured in a laboratory using a sample sent through the post.
Results are usually available within a week and people with haemoglobin levels of 10mg or more should be referred for further testing.
The diagnosis of cancer requires further evaluation using colonoscopy or CT colonography.
Some people presenting to primary care with colorectal cancer symptoms were already offered FIT under existing NICE guidelines, while others were immediately referred to a suspected cancer pathway.
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Everyone will now receive a FIT under the new draft guidance.
Roughly nine out of 10 people with colorectal cancer can be correctly identified by the tests, which cost between £4 and £5 for each sample.
NICE medical technology and digital evaluation interim director Mark Chapman said: “Introducing FIT to people as an initial test will also mean that those who are unlikely to have colorectal cancer may avoid having a colonoscopy and those who are more likely to have it can be prioritised.
“We hope this will reduce waiting times because fewer people will be receiving a colonoscopy they don’t need.”