Colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer | NICE guideline [NG151] | January 2020

This guideline covers managing colorectal (bowel) cancer in people aged 18 and over. It aims to improve quality of life and survival for adults with colorectal cancer through management of local disease and management of secondary tumours (metastatic disease).

Recommendations

This guideline includes recommendations on:

See also: Colorectal cancer (Quality Standard 20, updated from Aug 2012)

National bowel cancer audit annual report

National Bowel Cancer Audit Annual Report 2019 | The Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership

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Image source: https://www.hqip.org.uk/

This tenth report of the audit includes data on over 30,000 patients diagnosed with bowel cancer between 01 April 2017 and 31 March 2018.  For the first time, indicators of return to theatre and robotic surgery are reported and the measure of adjuvant chemotherapy for stage III colon cancer is reported at trust/hospital level in England. The report discusses several key findings for care pathways, surgical care, survival, rectal cancer and National Cancer Registry data.

Full report at HQIP

BMJ: Cancer screening uptake- only a third of women take up offers

Torjesen, I. | 2019| Cancer screening: only a third of women in England take up all offers | BMJ| 366 | l5588 | doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l5588

A new study published in the BMJ indicates that of the screening services offered to women in their 60s, which include cervical, breast and bowel screening only a third attend these screening sessions.  

The study included over 3000 women aged between 60-65 who had responded to their last invitations from each of these three screening programmes.

Results showed that:

  • 35% took part in all three screening programmes;
  • 37% participated in two programmes;
  • 17% accessed one type of screening; and
  • 10% were not screened at all.

They found that in the last screening round, 2525 (83%) had taken up mammography, 1908 (62%) cervical screening, and 1635 (53%) bowel cancer screening, which is consistent with the proportions reported in the official statistics for England (78%, 58-59%, and 57-59%, respectively).

The researchers also explored area level correlations between participation in the three screening programmes and various population characteristics for all English general practices with complete data in the Fingertips database curated by Public Health England. This database reports health related data for England aggregated by administrative area.

General practices with higher proportions of unemployed patients and smokers had a lower rate of take-up of all three screening programmes. Conversely, general practices from areas with less deprivation, with more patients who are carers or have chronic illnesses themselves, and with more patients satisfied with the provided service were significantly more likely to attain high coverage rates in all programmes (Source:  Torjesen, 2019).

To determine how many women participate in all three recommended cancer screening programmes (breast, cervical, and bowel). During their early 60s, English women receive an invitation from all the three programmes.

For 3060 women aged 60–65 included in an England-wide breast screening case–control study, we investigated the number of screening programmes they participated in during the last invitation round. Additionally, using the Fingertips database curated by Public Health England, we explored area-level correlations between participation in the three cancer screening programmes and various population characteristics for all 7014 English general practices with complete data.
Results

Of the 3060 women, 1086 (35%) participated in all three programmes, 1142 (37%) in two, 526 (17%) in one, and 306 (10%) in none. Participation in all three did not appear to be a random event (p  less than 0.001). General practices from areas with less deprivation, with more patients who are carers or have chronic illnesses themselves, and with more patients satisfied with the provided service were significantly more likely to attain high coverage rates in all programmes.

Only a minority of English women is concurrently protected through all recommended cancer screening programmes. Future studies should consider why most women participate in some but not all recommended screening.

 

See also: King’s College London Only a third of women take up all offered cancer screenings, new research finds

BMJ Cancer screening: only a third of women in England take up all offers

Excess weight and cancer risk

New figures from Cancer Research UK show that people who are obese now outnumber people who smoke two to one in the UK, and excess weight causes more cases of certain cancers than smoking.

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Almost a third of UK adults are obese and, while smoking is still the nation’s biggest preventable cause of cancer and carries a much higher risk of the disease than obesity, Cancer Research UK’s analysis revealed that being overweight or obese trumps smoking as the leading cause of four different types of cancer.

Excess weight causes around 1,900 more cases of bowel cancer than smoking in the UK each year. The same worrying pattern is true of cancer in the kidneys (1,400 more cases caused by excess weight than by smoking each year in the UK), ovaries (460) and liver (180).

The charity wants the Government to act on its ambition to halve childhood obesity rates by 2030 and introduce a 9pm watershed for junk food adverts on TV and online, alongside other measures such as restricting promotional offers on unhealthy food and drinks.

Full story: Obese people outnumber smokers two to one| Cancer Research UK

See also: Obesity ’causes more cases of some cancers than smoking’ | BBC News

Faecal immunochemical tests versus colonoscopy for post-polypectomy surveillance: an accuracy, acceptability and economic study

Atkin, W., et al | 2019|Faecal immunochemical tests versus colonoscopy for post-polypectomy surveillance: an accuracy, acceptability and economic study| Health Technology Assessment| Vol.23| 01| https://doi.org/10.3310/hta23010

 

A study which recruited male and female patients (aged between 60-72) from the Bowel Screening Programme between 30 January 2012 to 30 December 2013,  finds that annual faecal immunochemical testing, with colonoscopy in positive cases, was generally acceptable to patients and would be cost-saving compared to three-yearly colonoscopy, although it has lower sensitivity, resulting in missed lesions.

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Plain English Summary 

Bowel cancer typically develops from lesions called adenomas. Although common, most adenomas do not develop into cancer. Adenomas detected during a bowel examination, called a colonoscopy, are usually removed during this procedure. However, even after adenoma removal, some patients are still at greater risk of bowel cancer.

Depending on the number and size of adenomas found, patients are invited for a colonoscopy after 1, 3 or 5 years. Most of these additional colonoscopies will not detect cancer and they are expensive, often uncomfortable and can harm the bowel.

Both bowel cancer and adenomas can cause bleeding in the bowel. This study examined whether or not a test for blood in stool, completed at home [known as the faecal immunochemical test (FIT)], could be used instead of colonoscopy to monitor patients following adenoma removal. Colonoscopy would then be offered only to those who had a positive FIT result, indicating blood in the stool.

This study invited individuals for annual FITs for 3 years who, as part of the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, had one or two large adenomas or three or four small adenomas removed. If a FIT detected blood in the stool at any of the tests, these individuals were immediately offered a colonoscopy. If a FIT did not detect blood in the stool at any test, these individuals were offered a colonoscopy 3 years after their adenomas were removed, as were participants who did not return their second or third FIT.

The study demonstrated that an annual FIT could identify 85 of every 100 cancers and 57 of every 100 patients with adenomas if repeated over 3 years. Annual FITs were considerably cheaper than colonoscopy after 3 years. Participants reported that the FIT was easy to use and provided reassurance. However, some were concerned that the FIT would not be as effective as colonoscopy.

Abstract

Background

In the UK, patients with one or two adenomas, of which at least one is ≥ 10 mm in size, or three or four small adenomas, are deemed to be at intermediate risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) and referred for surveillance colonoscopy 3 years post polypectomy. However, colonoscopy is costly, can cause discomfort and carries a small risk of complications.

Objectives

To determine whether or not annual faecal immunochemical tests (FITs) are effective, acceptable and cost saving compared with colonoscopy surveillance for detecting CRC and advanced adenomas (AAs).

Design

Diagnostic accuracy study with health psychology assessment and economic evaluation.

Setting

Participants were recruited from 30 January 2012 to 30 December 2013 within the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme in England.

Participants

Men and women, aged 60–72 years, deemed to be at intermediate risk of CRC following adenoma removal after a positive guaiac faecal occult blood test were invited to participate. Invitees who consented and returned an analysable FIT were included.

Intervention

We offered participants quantitative FITs at 1, 2 and 3 years post polypectomy. Participants testing positive with any FIT were referred for colonoscopy and not offered further FITs. Participants testing negative were offered colonoscopy at 3 years post polypectomy. Acceptibility of FIT was assessed using discussion groups, questionnaires and interviews.

Main outcome measures

The primary outcome was 3-year sensitivity of an annual FIT versus colonoscopy at 3 years for detecting advanced colorectal neoplasia (ACN) (CRC and/or AA). Secondary outcomes included participants’ surveillance preferences, and the incremental costs and cost-effectiveness of FIT versus colonoscopy surveillance.

Results

Of 8008 invitees, 5946 (74.3%) consented and returned a round 1 FIT. FIT uptake in rounds 2 and 3 was 97.2% and 96.9%, respectively. With a threshold of 40 µg of haemoglobin (Hb)/g faeces (hereafter referred to as µg/g), positivity was 5.8% in round 1, declining to 4.1% in round 3. Over three rounds, 69.2% (18/26) of participants with CRC, 34.3% (152/443) with AAs and 35.6% (165/463) with ACN tested positive at 40 µg/g. Sensitivity for CRC and AAs increased, whereas specificity decreased, with lower thresholds and multiple rounds. At 40 µg/g, sensitivity and specificity of the first FIT for CRC were 30.8% and 93.9%, respectively. The programme sensitivity and specificity of three rounds at 10 µg/g were 84.6% and 70.8%, respectively. Participants’ preferred surveillance strategy was 3-yearly colonoscopy plus annual FITs (57.9%), followed by annual FITs with colonoscopy in positive cases (31.5%). FIT with colonoscopy in positive cases was cheaper than 3-yearly colonoscopy (£2,633,382), varying from £485,236 (40 µg/g) to £956,602 (10 µg/g). Over 3 years, FIT surveillance could miss 291 AAs and eight CRCs using a threshold of 40 µg/g, or 189 AAs and four CRCs using a threshold of 10 µg/g.

Conclusions

Annual low-threshold FIT with colonoscopy in positive cases achieved high sensitivity for CRC and would be cost saving compared with 3-yearly colonoscopy. However, at higher thresholds, this strategy could miss 15–30% of CRCs and 40–70% of AAs. Most participants preferred annual FITs plus 3-yearly colonoscopy. Further research is needed to define a clear role for FITs in surveillance.

(Source: Health Technology Assessment (HTA)

 

The study can be read in full from HTA

National Bowel Cancer Audit

Health Quality Improvement Programme | December 2018 | Bowel Cancer Audit

The latest annual National Bowel Cancer Audit from the Health Quality Improvement Programme (HQIP) details data from over 30,000 patients diagnosed with bowel cancer between 01 April 2016 and 31 March 2017.

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Image source: hqip.org.uk

This  audit report describes some ongoing improvements such as mortality rates following both elective and emergency surgery falling over the past five years and increased numbers of operations being performed laparoscopically.

This year’s report has also described geographical variation in chemotherapy administration and further work is required to better describe and understand this. It is encouraging to see that there has been a reducing trend of deaths in hospital from 2011 to 2016 (46.2% – 34.6%) (Source: HQIP) .

2018 Annual Report 

Patient Report 2018 

Bowel cancer waiting times figures revealed

University of Edinburgh | November 2018| Bowel cancer waiting times figures revealed

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer type, now researchers from the University of Edinburgh have shown that it takes 10% of  patients in England and Wales more than a year from recognising the symptoms to receiving treatment for their bowel cancer. They found that 10% of people with bowel cancer in Scotland waited more than 8 months to start treatment. 

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This international study included anonymised medical data from 3000 patients and their doctors in Australia, and Canada alongside the UK. Among their findings people in Wales took the longest to contact their GP once they had a health concern. Patients in Wales also waited the longest time (168 days)  to commence treatment,  which contrasts with Denmark (77 days. Researchers found that men and women in Wales took the longest to contact their doctor once they had noticed a health concern or symptom (Source: University of Edinburgh).

Full details from University of Edinburgh