You're viewing our new website - find out more


More than 100,000 bowel screening tests returned

Published: 8 Dec 2015 10:00

Scots galvanised to join the 'bowel movement'.

People across Scotland answered Detect Cancer Early's call to join the 'bowel movement' with new statistics highlighting that an additional 3,000 bowel screening tests were returned during September and October, compared to the same period the previous year. 1

Over 100,000 tests in total were returned during the two month period 1 that coincided with the launch of the Scottish Government's new Detect Cancer Early campaign to boost participation in the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme. The figures were announced at today's Britain Against Cancer Conference in London.

The 'bowel movement' campaign, which targeted those who put off taking the test, highlighted the growing number of people in Scotland who are routinely taking part, in a bid to motivate others to do the same.

With statistics showing that the likelihood of surviving bowel cancer is 14 times higher if detected at an early stage compared to a late stage 2, the bowel screening test remains the most effective way of finding the disease early.

Everyone aged between 50 and 74 in Scotland is sent a bowel screening test every two years. More people than ever before are doing their test, in the privacy of their own home – around half a million every year – but Detect Cancer Early aims to further drive uptake in a bid to help save more lives.

The Detect Cancer Early programme, launched in February 2012, aims to increase the proportion of people in Scotland who are diagnosed in the early stages of breast, bowel and lung cancer by 25 per cent by the end of 2015.

Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing & Sport Shona Robison said:

"More people than ever in Scotland are completing their bowel screening tests, and these latest figures show that things are continuing to move in the right direction.

"We know that many people are put off by the test, or simply don't get around to completing it, so it's encouraging to see that our awareness campaigns are spurring people into action.

"Bowel cancer can often be cured, if it's caught early but it's important people play their part by returning their kits when they arrive in the post. Together, we can help bring cancer down to size in Scotland."

Professor Bob Steele, Director of the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme, said:

"Bowel cancer isn't what it used to be and the earlier it is found, the easier it is to treat.

"We know completing the test isn't the nicest thing to do, but it's hugely encouraging to see many more people pressing ahead and returning their kits as it could save their life.

"I'd encourage everyone who is offered bowel screening to take the opportunity to get checked. It's free, simple, can be done in the privacy of your own home and, as these figures show, you won't be alone."

Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said:

"Any increase in screening levels is to be applauded and we are pleased the new Detect Cancer Early campaign has encouraged participation.

"Bowel cancer is Scotland's second biggest cancer killer with 1,600 people dying each year, yet it is both treatable and curable if diagnosed early.

"Screening is vitally important and has been shown to save lives."

Anne Irvine, 50, from Kinning Park in Glasgow, featured as a housewife in the campaign advert. Her involvement came at an opportune time as it spurred her on to return her bowel screening test.

Anne said:

"The bowel screening test dropped through my letter box on my 50th birthday. I put it in a drawer and have to admit I forgot all about it, until the opportunity to be in the advert came along. That prompted me to go and find the test and I took it straight away.

"The results came back clear, which was hugely reassuring. I look back and think it was a bit of fate and coincidence. The campaign encouraged me to act and now I've done the test, it's something I will definitely do again."

For more information on the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme or to request a replacement test, call the helpline on 0800 0121 833.

Notes to editors

1 Management information (1 September – 31 October) Scottish Bowel Screening Centre

2 Scottish Cancer Registry, ISD. Data extracted: May 2015. Men and women diagnosed between 2005-2009. 80.6% survival for those diagnosed at Stage 1, compared to 5.9% at Stage 4.

  • The Scottish Bowel Screening Programme uptake rate is currently 57.6 per cent (source: ISD, Scottish Bowel Screening Programme Statistics, published 4 August 2015).