The ASCEND2 study was a follow-on study to the ASCEND research project and involved 370,000 people within the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme in England. The project involved a collaboration between the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, University College London, Queen Mary University of London and the CSPRG (Imperial College London). The study was funded by Cancer Research UK.


The trial is registered with the ISRCTN registry. Its unique number is 11660314.

Our Data Protection and Privacy Notice

Privacy Notice

In order to conduct our research Imperial College London is the data controller for personal information from health care records (also known as ‘special category’ data). We either obtain this data directly from NHS Trusts or via third parties such as NHS Digital, the Office for National Statistics, National Cancer Registries (including the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit) and Information Services Division Scotland, part of NHS National Services Scotland This means that we are responsible for looking after your information and using it properly. The CSPRG intends to keep special category, personal data for 10 years after our studies finish, as per the Imperial College London data retention guidelines. Imperial College London, UK, is the sponsor for our studies.

Further information on Imperial College London’s retention periods may be found at

A link to Imperial College London’s data protection webpage may be found at The CSPRG privacy notice, described here, is most applicable to the information provided by CSPRG study participants and therefore takes precedence.

Your rights / GDPR Individual Rights

Your usual statutory rights to access, change or move your information are limited, because of exceptions applicable to some types of research, and also because we need to manage your information in specific, lawful ways in order for the research to be reliable and accurate. To safeguard your rights, we will use the minimum personally-identifiable information possible.

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) grants individuals several rights concerning their data:

  • The right to object (to processing of the data)
  • The right to correct (inaccurate or incomplete data)
  • The right to erasure (also known as “the right to be forgotten”)
  • The right to restrict processing (e.g. while the accuracy of the data is contested)
  • The right to portability (to have a copy of any data you have provided to us)
  • The right to access (to have a copy of data we hold about you)
  • The right to withdraw consent (if you have previously consented to take part)

If you think that we might be processing your data and you wish to exercise any of the rights listed above, please get in touch using the details on the Contact Us page.  Though it may not always be possible for us to fulfil your request, we will respond to your query within one month.  For more information on your GDPR rights, please see guidance provided by Information Commissioners Office.

Legal Basis

As a University we use personal data and special categories of personal data to conduct research to improve health, care and services. As a publicly-funded organisation, we must ensure that it is in the public interest when we use personal data and special categories of personal data.  Some of this data is from patients who have completed a consent form.  Where consent could not be sought, approval for obtaining and processing data was provided under section 251 of the National Health Service Act 2006.

Health and care research should be in the public interest, which means that we must demonstrate that our research serves the interests of society. We do this by following the UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research.

Contact us

If you wish to raise a complaint on how we have handled your personal data or if you want to find out more about how we use your information, please contact Imperial College London’s Data Protection Officer via email at, via telephone on 020 7594 3502 or via post at Imperial College London, Data Protection Officer, Faculty Building Level 4, London SW7 2AZ.

If you are not satisfied with our response or believe we are processing your personal data in a way that is not lawful you can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO does recommend that you seek to resolve matters with the data controller (us) first before involving the regulator.

What were the aims of the ASCEND2 study?

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, and the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK. Early diagnosis improves survival and in light of this the NHS established the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCSP). At the time of the ASCEND2 study, the BCSP offered screening using a stool testing kit (the faecal occult blood test) to 60-74 year olds in England.

The aim of the ASCEND2 study was to increase screening uptake in the BCSP and to reduce differences in uptake between socioeconomic groups, whilst ensuring that uptake does not decline in any particular socioeconomic group.

What type of study was ASCEND2?

ASCEND2 was designed as a randomised controlled trial. The intervention group received a GP endorsement statement with the letter accompanying their screening kit from the BCSP.


In the ASCEND study, four different invitation/information strategies were tested and compared with the standard bowel cancer screening invitation letter to see if screening participation improved.

GP practices were recruited as part of the ASCEND study and those that consented were included in ASCEND2.


No other aspects of the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme were changed during the study. People received the same care as part of the screening programme regardless of whether they received an alternative invitation, or had their information used as part of the study.

When and where did this study take place?

The ASCEND2 study took place across England between February and March 2016.

What type of information does the CSPRG hold for the purposes of the ASCEND2 study?

The CSPRG does not hold personal data for the purpose of the ASCEND2 study.

What are the results of the study and what impact have they had?

The ASCEND2 study completed in April 2018 and when the results have been analysed, the detailed findings will be published in peer-reviewed medical journals. A summary of the findings will also be placed on this website.

We hope the results will be used to inform the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme on how best to invite people for screening in the future and to improve