Screening programme for bowel cancer starts

A screening programme to detect early signs of bowel cancer in older people is to start on Thursday.

Men and women in Shetland aged between 50 and 74 are being urged to take part in a national screening campaign, which will be launched locally on 1st October. The Scottish Bowel Cancer Screen­ing Programme has been gradually phased in across Scotland since it started in 2007.

Everyone in this age group is invited to take part in the screening programme. They will then be tested again every two years until reaching the age of 74. The programme uses a test kit which is sent out by post from the National Bowel Cancer Screening Centre for people to complete at home and return to the centre. If the results of this test show that someone needs further investigation, they will be referred to the Gilbert Bain Hospital.

NHS Shetland consultant in public health medicine Susan Laidlaw said: “This is an important new programme which aims to pick up the early signs of bowel cancer before there are any symptoms. This means that treatment can start earlier and is more likely to be successful. I am particularly keen that men aged between 50 and 74 know about bowel cancer screen­ing.

“There is a high uptake amongst women in Shetland for the existing breast and cervical cancer screening programmes, and I hope that this will continue for bowel cancer screening. This is the first national programme that has involved men as well, so I think it is very important that they are encouraged to take part, especially as they are at increased risk of bowel cancer. “As well as taking part in the screening programme, it is also important that people are aware of the possible symptoms of bowel cancer so they can get them checked out early. Symptoms such as repeat­ed bleeding from your bottom, severe stomach pains, changes in bowel habit that go on for more than six weeks and losing weight without trying can by caused by a number of different conditions, including bowel cancer. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your GP and get them checked out.”

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland (after lung cancer and breast cancer). Over 3,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year. This cancer is more common in people aged over 50, especially men. The screening programme aims to find bowel cancer before any symptoms have developed – if detected early enough there is a 90 per cent chance of treating it successfully.

• Anyone with questions or con­cerns about the programme should phone the national helpline on 0800 0121 833 from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. All calls are free and treated in strict confidence.


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