The Lothian Bowel Symptoms Study (LABSS)


More information about LABSS

Bowel cancer (or colorectal cancer) is the 2nd most common cause of cancer death accounting for >16,000 deaths in the UK each year. With this research, we aim to improve and refine bowel cancer identification for those with bowel symptoms using population screening and diagnostic pathways. The ultimate target is to reduce the overall death rate by improving survival outcomes and patient journeys. 

Since most bowel symptoms do not indicate bowel cancer, we need to identify those at higher risk in order to prioritise referrals for colonoscopy. In Scotland, there has been a recent rise in primary care referrals without a corresponding rise in bowel cancer rates. Colonoscopy resources are therefore in considerable demand. The current “conversion” rate to cancer in NHS Lothian is <4% for referrals of patients with symptoms. There is much scope, therefore, for making referrals more informed.



The primary outcome of this study is the construction of risk prediction models for significant bowel disease risk.

Healthcare and financial impact

This research aims to improve the identification of bowel disease among people with specific bowel symptoms.

Key Publications

Listed are a number of key papers and other publications. They are listed under the following headings: "Colorectal Cancer (CRC) and Other Cancers", "CRC & Vitamin D"; "Inflammatory Bowel Disease"; "Other Work in Molecular Epidemiology" and "Umbrella Reviews".

Ethics and regulations

We will follow ethical and legal regulations and all personal information will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Data access for researchers

Our data, storage and access policies.