The bowel movement is sweeping Scotland with over 500,000 people doing their bowel screening test every year.
Although the figure is higher than ever before, the Scottish Government’s Detect Cancer Early campaign is targeting those who put off taking the test, in a bid to save more lives.
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland, but it is the most treatable, and can often be cured, if found early.
Statistics show that the likelihood of surviving bowel cancer is 14 times higher if detected at an early stage compared to a late stage, and the bowel screening test - offered to people aged 50 to 74 - remains the most effective way of finding the disease early.
One woman who is thankful for doing her test is Liz Harris (64), who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in November 2014.
The mother of three, who has since been successfully treated, has shared her experience in a bid to encourage those who put off taking the test not to delay doing it.
Liz routinely returned her bowel screening test in October 2014 and was then asked to re-take it as the result wasn’t conclusive. She had no worries at that stage, as she wasn’t experiencing any symptoms.
Following a colonoscopy and a CT scan, Liz was told she had bowel cancer and went through surgery in January 2015 where a tumour was removed from her bowel.
Liz has recently received the all-clear and credits this to her cancer being found early through screening.
Speaking about her experience, Liz said: “I have recovered well since the operation and I am feeling great. I have been walking daily and taking exercise classes to keep fit.
“I’m a very positive person and although the last year or so hasn’t been the easiest, I’m just so glad it was found early and I can now look forward to spending time with my children and grandchildren.”
To encourage others to join the bowel movement, Liz teamed up with comedian Fred MacAulay – an advocate of bowel screening – to make a short video highlighting the importance of doing your bowel test.
Liz said: “I’m happy to do anything to raise awareness of the bowel screening test as it saved my life.
“It’s not pleasant but it takes minutes and is done in the privacy of your own bathroom. I think everyone who is eligible should take up the offer of bowel screening.”
Fred MacAulay, who also stars in the Detect Cancer Early TV advert, added: “It was great meeting Liz and speaking to her about her experience. Because of screening, she has been diagnosed early, successfully treated, and can get on with the rest of her life.
“I do my test every two years and personally think the screening we’re offered in this country is a great thing. I’d encourage everyone who is invited to take the test.”
For more information on bowel screening visit getcheckedearly.org.
To watch what happened when Fred surprised Liz at home, clickhere.
The bowel screening test – the facts
• If you’re aged 50-74, you are invited to take part in bowel screening every two years in Scotland
• It’s not the most pleasant thing in the world, but you’re not alone - more than 500,000 people in Scotland do their bowel screening test every year
• The free test – that can be done in the privacy of your bathroom - can spot hidden blood in your poo
• So don’t delay, do your test, it could be a lifesaver
• If you’re 75 or over, or you’ve made a mistake/ misplaced your test you can request one from the Scottish Bowel Screening Centre on 0800 0121 833
• For more information visit getcheckedearly.org
Bowel cancer – the facts
• Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland, yet it is both treatable and even curable if found early
• Bowel cancer is more common in people over 50, especially men
• Nine out of ten people beat it when it’s caught early
• Your bowel screening test is the best way to find bowel cancer early
• It’s important to stay alert to any potential signs of bowel cancer in between screenings too. If you notice any blood in your poo, or a change in your bowel movements for four weeks or more, contact your GP as soon as possible
Know the signs
The early signs of bowel cancer are often hidden but it’s important to look out for these signs or changes in your bowel movements in between screenings -
• Repeated bleeding from your bottom or blood in your poo.
• A recent change in your poo that continues for more than four weeks without going back to normal.
• Watery poo, on its own or with constipation (constipation on its own is less likely to be serious).
• Severe pain in your stomach that won’t go away, especially after eating.
• Losing weight without trying.
• Feeling tired all the time.