Four in ten ignore cancer screening

Bowel cancer screening
Bowel cancer screening

On average only 56% of people living in Ayrshire & Arran who are sent the bowel cancer screening test for free in the post actually complete it - the third lowest uptake rate in Scotland.

Bowel Cancer UK, the UK’s leading bowel cancer research charity, is encouraging people living in the region to take part in the screening programme as part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in April.

In April alone across Scotland, over 300 people will be diagnosed with bowel cancer and over 130 people will die of the disease. However bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early.

Uptake rates for bowel cancer screening are low with huge variations across Scotland. The bottom five health boards that need to see the most improvement are Greater Glasgow & Clyde (52%), Lanarkshire (52%), Ayrshire & Arran (56%), Lothian (56%), and Fife (57%). The top five health boards with the highest uptake are Shetland (66%), Borders (63%), Orkney (62%), Grampian (62%) and Highland (60%).

The Scottish Bowel Screening Programme can detect bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms when it is easier to treat and a greater chance of survival. If you’re registered with a GP and aged 50-74, you will receive a test in the post every two years. You carry out the simple test at home in private and it comes with step by step instructions. The test looks for hidden blood in your poo, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer.

In 2017, Scotland will replace the current screening test, guaiac Faecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT), with a simpler and more accurate test - Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT). The pilot proved extremely successful with up to a 10% increase rate in participation.

Emma Anderson, Head of Scotland for Bowel Cancer UK, says: “It’s quite simple, bowel cancer screening saves lives. It’s predicted that even using the current test, the screening programme will save over 2,000 lives each year by 2025. I would encourage everyone who’s over 50 to take the test, and for those who are younger to encourage their loved ones over 50 to complete it.”

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of taking part in bowel cancer screening. Bowel Cancer UK’s award-winning health promotion team is looking for work places and community groups in the local area to host a talk about screening in April.

The 30 minute talk is delivered by a trained health promotion volunteer, who often has a personal experience of bowel cancer. To find out more visit: