Back to listing

The flexi-scope bowel cancer test

13 Aug 2013

The 'flexi-scope' screening test for bowel cancer in the over 55s was developed with MRC and Cancer Research UK funding. The five-minute test allows doctors to both detect the early stages of bowel cancer and remove precancerous polyps to prevent bowel cancer from developing.

A 16-year study, the results of which were published in 2010, found that the test reduced the incidence of bowel cancer by a third compared with people who received usual care. The trial followed more than 170,000 for around 11 years.

About one in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer, with nine in 10 cases occurring in people over 55. This test is expected to save 3,000 lives each year in the UK. Research commissioned by the UK Department of Health and published in 2006 suggested that the test would save £28 for every person screened. The Government has committed to rolling out the test across the NHS in England by 2016 as part of the UK National Screening Programme. A pilot test in six areas began in March 2013. 

You can read more about the development of bowel scope screening for bowel cancer in Cancer Research UK's Investment and impact: How government supports science in the UK (PDF, 2.10MB)


  • Categories: Research
  • Health categories: Cancer, Metabolic
  • Strategic objectives: Life course perspective, Securing impact from medical research
  • Locations: London, Oxford
  • Type: Success story