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Colon cancer home tests are free – but Brussels residents aren’t bothering

14:58 24/03/2021

Anyone between the ages of 50 and 74 can request a free colon cancer test kit every two years from a Brussels pharmacist. But only 12% of them do.

Despite the fact that the test is wholly proven to detect polyps in the colon that eventually become cancerous, saving countless lives as a result, few people bother to request a kit. That’s why BruPrev, a cancer-prevention non-profit organisation, has launched a campaign to convince people to request the test.

Whether people in the age group don’t know they can request a free test or just don’t bother isn’t clear, but since it’s free and can be requested from any pharmacy or online, the percentage should be a lot  higher.

“People are definitely not getting the information they need about colon cancer and about Colotest, an easy, quick and effective method of detecting it,” says BruPrev chair Luc Baeyens. “We hope to greatly increase the number of people requesting the test with this campaign.”

Second deadliest

Some 3,000 people die every year in Belgium from colon cancer, making it the second-deadliest cancer in Belgium (after lung cancer). Nine in 10 cases of colon cancer is easily treatable if detected in time.

The kit allows people to take a tiny sample of their stool and send it, postage paid, to a lab. Flecks of blood in the stool that are too small to see are a sign of polyps in the colon. If blood is detected in the stool, the patient is advised to follow up with a colonoscopy.

That procedure is what identifies if there are polyps in the colon. The doctor carrying out the colonoscopy immediately removes any polyps. Because it takes a few years for polyps to become cancerous, a test every two years prevents cancer from ever developing.

People living in Wallonia can also order a free test kit. In Flanders, a colon cancer test kit is sent to people in the age group automatically via the post every two years. More than 50% of recipients carry out and return the test for analysis.

Photo ©Getty Images


Written by Lisa Bradshaw



Thanks for this article. We've only been in Belgium since October 2020 and didn't know about it. Certainly will get the tests. I think your point is spot on: lots of people just don't know.
In UK we used to get a letter plus the appropriate kit sent home. The NHS often gets criticised and taken for granted but there are a few things of their services I already miss tbh.

Mar 25, 2021 09:34