Are you risking your life by ignoring the bowel screening test?

Bowel cancer screening is at an all time low in Glasgow
Bowel cancer screening is at an all time low in Glasgow

Nearly half of people living in Greater Glasgow & Clyde ignore the bowel cancer screening test – people’s lives are at risk

On average only 52 per cent of people living in Greater Glasgow & Clyde who are sent the bowel cancer screening test for free in the post actually complete it – the joint lowest uptake rate in the country.

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.

This month alone over 300 people across Scotland will be diagnosed with bowel cancer and more than 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 sample, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer.

In 2017, Scotland will replace the current screening test, with a simpler and more accurate test. The pilot proved extremely successful with up to a 10 per cent increase rate in participation.

Emma Anderson, 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. It could save yours or your loved ones life.”