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People across Scotland urged to join the 'bowel movement'

Published: 24 Sep 2015 09:00

New Detect Cancer Early bowel campaign launches.

A new TV campaign urging people to join the 'bowel movement' launched today to further boost participation in Scotland's bowel screening programme.

Statistics show that the likelihood of surviving bowel cancer is 14 times higher if detected at an early stage compared to a late stage1, and the home bowel screening test - offered to people aged 50 to 74 - remains the most effective way of finding the disease early.

Every year, half a million people in Scotland complete and return their bowel screening kits2, and although the figure is higher than ever before, the new campaign is targeting those who put off taking the test.

The advert, featuring Fred MacAulay and Claire Grogan, aims to highlight the growing number of people in Scotland who are routinely returning their test, in a bid to motivate others to do the same. It follows a housewife, Mrs Hutchison, who is joined by a growing crowd of supporters whilst walking down her street - including a brass band and cheerleaders - all encouraging her to take the test when she reaches her house, in the privacy of her own bathroom.

Members of the crowd who appear in the advert - including actress Carole Cassidy who plays housewife Mrs Hutchison - regularly complete and return their bowel screening tests.

Watch the advert here:

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

"The new campaign is a tongue in cheek way of getting across a serious message – that the home bowel screening test could be a lifesaver. As part of the Detect Cancer Early programme, this is yet another way we're helping bring cancer down to size in Scotland.

"People who receive their bowel screening kit may be put off by the process, but the reality is that more people than ever in Scotland are completing the test and returning it. This means more people have a better chance of bowel cancer being detected early, when the chances of survival are much higher.

"It's positive that participation is rising, but this campaign is focused on encouraging those who have dismissed taking the test or are putting off completing and returning it. We want everyone in Scotland to have the best chance of surviving cancer – and bowel cancer can often be cured, if it's caught early."

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

"We very much welcome this new advertising campaign as it will encourage higher levels of participation in screening which is vitally important and has been proven to save lives. 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. For people of screening age, taking part in bowel cancer screening is the best way to get diagnosed early."

Comedian Fred MacAuley, an advocate of the bowel screening programme, said:

"There have been incidences of bowel cancer amongst my friends and family, and because of screening, they've survived.

"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 and hopefully this new campaign will help make that happen."

John Wright, 64, of Drongan in Ayrshire is backing the latest campaign and is someone who credits screening with saving his life. John was diagnosed with bowel cancer in September 2007 after returning his test and being called for further tests which showed two tumours in his bowel.

After being given the all clear, a routine check-up in 2008 showed another tumour and John underwent another operation and course of chemotherapy. Seven years on, he is now fit, healthy and enjoys an active life.

John Wright said:

"If I didn't complete the bowel home screening kit, my tumours would have continued to grow inside my bowel without me knowing. By the time I had symptoms it might have been too late to treat. I'm walking proof that home screening works so I hope by sharing my story, others will remember to get checked and send their test away even if it's for peace of mind.

"Despite the odd problem, my bowel works just like everyone else's. It's incredible to think that I've now had three tumours removed over two operations. The team of consultants and nurses were incredible and so reassuring throughout my treatment."

John added: "Be positive, fear nothing and put your trust in the professionals that are caring for you. These tests detect early signs of cancer that the naked eye can't see. Only under the microscope could the doctors tell something wasn't quite right with me."

For further information visit or call the Scottish Bowel Screening Helpline on 0800 0121 833.

Notes to editors

1 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.

2 Scottish Bowel Screening Programme Statistics, invitations between 1 November 2012 and 31 October 2014, published 4 August 2015.

This is just one way cancer is being brought down to size in Scotland. Visit for more information.

Images of Fred MacAulay and John Wright are available.

The Scottish Bowel Screening Programme commenced a phased roll-out in June 2007 with all NHS Boards in Scotland participating since December 2009.

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland.

• The bowel cancer screening test is the best way to find bowel cancer early.

• All men and women aged 50-74 are invited for bowel screening every two years in Scotland.

• Anyone aged 75 or over can still take a bowel screening test every two years if they want to – they simply need to request a kit.

• The test can be completed in the privacy of your own home, is free and could save your life.

• For more information visit

• To request a replacement kit call the Bowel Screening Centre Helpline on 0800 0121 833 or visiting