Detect bowel cancer early, during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

NHS Western Isles is urging all those who receive a Bowel Screening Kit in the post to complete the test and help protect themselves against one of the biggest cancer killers.

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and the local Health Board is reminding every 50 – 74 year old in the Western Isles that they can help to save their life by using the free screening test which will be delivered through their door.

Uptake of the screening test locally, which can indicate early signs of the third most common cancer in Scotland, could be improved, and local health professionals are stressing that the screening programme offers a real opportunity to identify and treat those at risk. The latest figures indicate that 59% of people sent a test completed it in the Western Isles in February 2012, and local uptake on a monthly basis over the last year ranges from 43% to 71%. Ensuring early diagnosis is a key feature of the Scottish Government’s Detect Cancer Early campaign to help save lives in Scotland.

NHS Western Isles Medical Director Dr James Ward said: “Here in Scotland, every year the equivalent of four people a day die from bowel cancer. This screening programme is very simple, but very effective. It saves lives by detecting problems early and spotting symptoms that people may not know they have.

“Lots of information is provided with the kit when it arrives through the letterbox and the programme also has a great deal of information which people can access whenever it is convenient for them at This includes a short film which explains more about the test and how to complete this.

“If you receive the test, please take it. It could just save your life.”

Bowel cancer is more common in people over 50 years of age, especially in men. The screening test looks for hidden blood in the bowel motion, as this may suggest a higher chance of bowel cancer. If bowel cancer is detected early enough through screening, there is a 90 per cent chance of treating the disease successfully. Bowel screening can reduce deaths from bowel cancer by 15 per cent.