Introduction Colorectal cancer is the third most common malignancy and the second highest cause of cancer death.1 In early 2011 the East of England region was targeted by the Department of Health with a promotional campaign regarding the symptoms of bowel cancer. This advertising campaign increased the demand on the suspected colorectal cancer service in the months that followed. We examined the impact of the increase in referral numbers on the number of cancers and advanced adenomas detected.
Methods All patients who attended the nurse led fast-track suspected colorectal cancer clinic from 1 February to 31 August 2010 and 1 February to 31 August 2011 were identified. Each patient's electronic medical record was examined in detail, in particular for diagnosis of polyps and cancer. The results were statistically analysed using either a Fisher's exact test or Mann–Whitney U test as appropriate.
Results A total of 1517 patients attended the clinic during the time periods studied (Abstract PWE-080 table 1). 36.7% more patients were seen in 2011 compared with 2010 (876 vs 641). The groups were matched for age (p=0.49), however more males were seen in 2011 (p=0.028). A total of 143 cancers were detected, 115 (7.6%) of which were colorectal cancers. There was no significant increase in colorectal cancers diagnosed in 2011 compared to 2010 (61 vs 54, p=0.33) nor was there a statistically significant difference in Dukes' stage between the 2 time periods and no significant difference in the number of polyps or advanced adenomas detected in 2010 and 2011 (p=0.78 and p=0.61 respectively).
Conclusion The promotional campaign resulted in a 37% increase in referrals to the colorectal fast-track clinic between 2010 and 2011. There was no statistically significant difference in the proportion of cancer diagnoses, however an extra 235 referrals in 2011 yielded only seven extra colorectal cancer diagnoses The campaign has been considered a success by the Department of Health and is due to roll out nationally in 2012.
Competing interests None declared.
Reference 1. Cancer Research UK. UK Bowel Cancer Statistics. 2009.
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