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Bowel Screening - The Bottom Line in Prevention

March 31, 2009 12:01 PM

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A new cancer screening programme launched today could potentially save nearly 140 lives in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

More than 307,000 men and women turning 50 and over will be invited to take part in Scotland’s largest cancer screening programme.

This is the first screening programme in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area to detect bowel cancer and will target both sexes aged between 50 and 74 years of age.

Launched today by the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Nicola Sturgeon, the programme will invite everyone in the age group to participate over the next two years, and then every two years.

An easy to use screening kit will be sent to people’s homes where a simple test can be carried out in private and returned to a consultant-led laboratory in a pre-paid envelope.

Speaking at the launch of the bowel screening programme in Glasgow, Nicola Sturgeon said: “I am delighted that NHS Great Glasgow and Clyde’s bowel screening programme is now up and running.

“The national bowel screening programme is an important part of Scotland’s efforts to detect and prevent cancer and I would urge everyone invited to take the test to do so.”

The programme has already started in a number of other NHS Board areas in Scotland and one patient from Elgin believes her own positive outcome was due to the early diagnosis by the Bowel Screening Unit.

Mary is sixty-nine years old and was diagnosed with bowel cancer five years ago. Following a positive testing result, Mary was given an appointment at her local hospital. Further tests at hospital confirmed Mary’s diagnosis and after five weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she underwent surgery and now has a colostomy.

Mary says: “There was a history of bowel cancer in my family which made me aware that any changes in toilet routine must be checked.

“One morning there was a certain urgency in going to the loo and strangely on the same day a screening-test arrived by post.

“I had no hesitation in doing the test and was seen and treated very quickly. I have now been given the all-clear and today I am very fit and health and kept very busy with various activities.

“I believe the good and positive outcome for me was due to the early diagnosis by the Bowel Screening Unit.”
This new screening programme will look for bowel cancer at a stage before it causes any complaints or symptoms.

Raising awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer, including bleeding from the bottom or blood in stools, a change in bowel habits to looser or more often bowel motions, a pain or lump in the abdomen, and extreme tiredness without an obvious cause, will reduce the risks further if they are treated early.

Dr Emilia Crighton, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Consultant in Public Health Medicine, says not everyone realises how important screening can be.

She said: “Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK and affects both men and women alike and as we get older the risk increases with nine out of 10 cases in people over 50. However, when detected early it can be treated effectively and many people can be cured.
“Within Greater Glasgow and Clyde there are approximately 750 – 830 new bowel cancer cases each year and approximately 350 – 400 deaths. It is essential that people use the kits and not be embarrassed or afraid to send us samples. The vast majority of results are perfectly normal. For the minority of people who do have positive results screening will mean early detection, quicker treatment and a greater chance of a cure.

“However, while the screening programme will help detect some new cases we would encourage anyone with these symptoms not to ignore them and contact their GP as soon as possible.”


Notes to Editors

It is estimated that in Greater Glasgow and Clyde 307,000 people will be sent screening kits and invited to return samples over two years.

Assuming an uptake of 50 – 52% we anticipate that each year 1628 people will have a positive screening result, of whom 1391 will go on to have a colonoscopy and 137 will be diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Research has shown that people who are involved in active jobs or physical activity are less likely to develop bowel cancer. This is due to a number of factors:

• Physical activity leads to regular bowel movements. In this way cancer causing substances in undigested food pass through the bowel more quickly.
• Physical activity reduces the levels of insulin, some hormones and some growth factors. At high levels these substances can encourage the growth of tumours.
• Physical activity can reduce inflammation in the bowel which might otherwise lead to bowel cancer.

For further information contact 0141 201 4429.

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Last Updated: 11 November 2021