The age at which people in Wales are eligible to receive an at-home bowel cancer screening test has been lowered to 51.
The move is based on a UK National Screening Committee recommendation and is part of a phased approach to getting the age down to 50.
Those eligible for the test will receive a faecal immunochemical test (FIT) which, since being introduced by the Welsh Government in 2019, has increased screening uptake to 65% in the 55-74-year-olds group which automatically qualify for the test.
Now though, people aged 51-54 in Wales who are registered with a GP will be sent an at-home FIT via the post every two years. The expansion will be staggered over the course of the next year.
While bowel cancer is one of the most common in Wales with almost 7000 registered cases between 2018 and 2020, around nine out of 10 people survive if it is detected early enough.
Welsh health minister, Eluned Morgan, indicates that the age will be lowered again next year to 50 – the sensitivity of the test itself will also be increased to enhance its efficacy.
“Although it is reassuring to see good uptake rates of the screening test so far, around a third of people still don’t take up the offer,” said Morgan. “So, I would encourage everyone who is sent a kit to take the test as it could be life-saving.”