BowelScreen Publishes Report from First Screening Round 2012 – 2015


In its first cycle or ‘round’, 521 cancers were detected and 13,000 pre-cancerous adenomas were removed by BowelScreen, which is delivered by the National Screening Service. The national bowel screening programme is available free to all men and women aged 60 to 69 in Ireland. This new report shows that the programme is already making a big difference in the fight against cancer.


Today BowelScreen released its first programme report, providing screening statistics for the first screening round of the programme’s operation (2012 – 2015). The release of the report coincides with Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, which runs throughout April.


Launched by Minister of State for Health Promotion, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD, the report highlights that BowelScreen invited 488,628 eligible people to participate in the programme with a total of 196,238 people screened and 521 cancers detected, three out of four cases at an early stage with a corresponding high survival rate. This resulted in a screening uptake rate of 40.2% and a cancer detection rate of 2.65 per 1,000 people screened.


Almost 13,000 adenomas were also removed during the first screening round. Adenomas are abnormal tissue growths that can become cancerous at a later stage. The removal of adenomas greatly reduces the possibility of subsequent cancer development, making BowelScreen a truly lifesaving programme.


Commenting on the first screening round of BowelScreen, Charles O’Hanlon, Head of Screening at the National Screening Service, said: “This report demonstrates that BowelScreen is detecting and treating bowel cancers and pre-cancerous changes at an early stage. There is much to learn moving forward; however it is important to acknowledge the successes of the programme.”


Despite BowelScreen’s success at detecting cancer at an early stage, the report reveals a low uptake of screening with just 40 per cent of eligible men and women participating in the programme. The uptake for women was higher than men (44.1 per cent compared to 36.4 per cent) yet the cancer detection rate among men was double that of women.


Professor Diarmuid O’Donoghue, Clinical Director of BowelScreen, said: “Low uptake of screening is worrying given bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in this country. We are particularly concerned about men, given that the cancer detection rate among males is twice as high as it is for females. It is so important that the men of Ireland take control of their health and do the test. It is a very quick, easy-to-use test that can be carried out in the privacy of your own home. It takes just minutes and most results are normal.”


Health professionals can encourage staff and patients aged 60 to 69 to register for BowelScreen online at or by calling the Freephone number 1800 45 45 55.


Brief overview of performance, from 22 October 2012 to 31 December 2015:


  • BowelScreen invited 488,628 people for screening
  • 196,238 people took up the invitation, resulting in a screening uptake rate of 40.2%
  • Uptake of screening for females was higher than in males (44.1 per cent compared to 36.4 per cent)
  • 8,062 people attended for a colonoscopy
  • 521 cancers were detected, giving an overall cancer detection rate of 2.65 per 1,000 people screened
  • There were 355 colon cancers, 159 rectal cancers and seven cases of cancer where the site was unconfirmed
  • Over 71 per cent of all cancers detected were stage I or II, meaning that disease was detected at an early stage and therefore, easier to treat
  • In addition, approximately 13,000 pre-cancerous adenomas were removed.


The BowelScreen Programme Report is available to view or download here.