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Project reference number – 0052

Principal Investigator – Andrew Plumb

Plain language summary – In England, every year, around 35,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer. Usually, the diagnosis is made using colonoscopy, where a camera is guided though the bowel. But, in some people a colonoscopy isn’t possible and so another test is used called computed tomographic colonography (CTC), or ‘virtual colonoscopy’ (see It uses a low dose of radiation to scan the large bowel (colon) and back passage (rectum). The NHS performs about 120,000 colonographies each year, but, unfortunately, this test may sometimes miss a cancer or its early signs. The earlier a cancer is found the more treatable it is, so missing a cancer is bad. 

This project aims to find out which people are at greater risk of having their cancer missed by CTC and if certain hospitals have a higher rate of missed cancers. This work has the potential to reduce the number of missed cancers and improve bowel cancer outcomes.