A pilot scheme to screen over 55s for bowel cancer is to be launched in Norwich. The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will unveil the plans in a speech at the Britain Against Cancer conference in London this afternoon. Ministers hope the scheme will save up to 3,000 lives in England every year.
From March 2013 Norwich will become one of five areas in the country to run the trials, which will enable doctors to detect and remove polyps before can they turn cancerous. It will also allow cancers to be caught earlier when they are more treatable.
The Government is also planning to trial a new, more sensitive test for cervical cancer in Norwich. It could mean women would need screening half as often, while identifying abnormal cells at an earlier, more treatable stage.
For some cancer types, survival rates are 10% to 15% lower in England than in comparable countries such as Australia, Canada and Sweden.
Speaking ahead of his speech, Mr Hunt said: "It is simply unacceptable that our cancer survival rates lag behind that of our European neighbours. I want to make sure that our survival is among the best and NHS patients receive the best treatment available."
The bowel cancer screening trials will be held in Norwich, South of Tyne, St Mark's London, Surrey, West Kent and Wolverhampton. The cervical cancer test will be piloted in Liverpool, Manchester, Northwick Park, Bristol, Sheffield and Norwich.