PEOPLE 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.
Scientists will offer 200 people in Swansea the test to check the disease has not returned.
Leading cancer charities have called the development a “positive step” for those waiting for check-ups.
The rollout will be funded by the Wales-based Moondance Cancer Initiative.
Thousands of people across Wales are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year. Those who are treated and survive the disease are monitored through regular scans or colonoscopies.
Prof Dean Harris, a colorectal surgeon at Swansea’s Singleton hospital, hopes the blood test can be a cheap and an easy alternative for those who are waiting.
“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,” he said.
“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….” he stated the pandemic has impacted waiting times.
“We want to help prioritise which of those patients need to be bumped up the list to have their test done soonest because they’re more likely to have a cancer or a polyp present, based on having the blood test done.”
The 200 patients chosen will be invited over the next few months.
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.