Statistics and information on bowel disease and the impact of these conditions in UK, internationally and how St. Mark's Hospital helps...

Bowel Cancer

Although Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK: with around 100 people a day being diagnosed with the disease, if it is caught early enough, it is one of the more treatable cancers.

Bowel Cancer Screening at St Mark’s Hospital

There are many reasons driving the increase in the number of procedures being carried out at St Mark’s:

  • The introduction of Bowel Cancer Screening Programmes.
  • Improved working conditions, reduced smoking rates and better healthcare have contributed to increasing life expectancy from generation to generation. The ageing population in the UK has increased the proportion of people eligible for the Bowel Cancer Screening Programmes.
  • St Mark’s is a tertiary referral centre, which means that in addition to providing specialist services to Harrow and the surrounding areas, it also treats patients referred to the Hospital from out-of-borough GP practices and other UK hospitals.

Testing Kits

There has been a change in the kits used for the screening programme, the guaiac faecal occult blood test, known as gFOBt is being replaced by the faecal immunochemical FIT test kit. The new FIT kits were rolled out in June 2019.

FIT is easier for patients to use because the test is far more sensitive and only one sample is needed.

The FIT kit uses antibodies that specifically recognises human hemoglobin, which means it is able to detect and quantify the amount of human blood in a sample.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is the umbrella term for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Around the world 5 million people are affected with IBD. In the UK it is estimated that 300,000 people suffer from IBD. As shown above this roughly equates to 1 in every 210 people in the UK.

IBD commonly presents in youth, so it can adversely effect growth, school, work and relationships.

Being diagnosed with IBD also means an increased chance of requiring surgery.

For sufferers of Crohn’s disease inflammation can occur anywhere along the digestive tract. In sufferers of ulcerative colitis inflammation occurs in the colon.

Currently, the cause of IBD is not completely understood, however research at St Mark’s Hospital seeks to better understand how to treat the disease by exploring the following areas:

  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Types of gut bacteria
  • Diet and other lifestyle factors

The IBD department is currently led by Consultant Gastroenterologist Professor Ailsa Hart.