Breaking down the taboos

Jennifer Darnborough
Jennifer Darnborough

AS part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month all men and women aged 50-74 across Lanarkshire are being urged to take up the free bowel screening test in a bid to detect the disease early.

Although almost 4,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in Scotland, just over half (54.5 per cent) of those who are eligible to participate in the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme actually do the test.

Nine out of 10 people survive bowel cancer if it’s detected early and the best way to check for the hidden signs of bowel cancer is through screening.

A new campaign is under way which includes a TV advert featuring the voice of Still Game star Ford Kiernan to inform people that bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland.

The campaign carries the message ‘Bowel Cancer. Don’t Take A Chance. Take The Test’ to highlight the fact that bowel cancer is a ‘hidden’ cancer, because the early signs are often not visible.

Jennifer Darnborough, consultant in public health at NHS Lanarkshire, said: “Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland yet when detected at an early stage, it’s highly treatable - nine out of 10 people survive if it’s caught early.

“As the signs of bowel cancer can be unnoticeable the screening programme is the best way to detect blood in the bowel, which can be a sign of bowel cancer.

“We would urge all local people between 50 to 74 years old to find out more about the benefits of taking the bowel screening test.

“It’s important to break down some of the taboos around the private nature of bowel cancer which will help to raise awareness of this important public health issue amongst local people.”

The bowel screening test is quick and simple.

After you have posted your sample the Scottish Bowel Screening Centre will send back the result within two weeks.

Most people will have a negative result, which means that no blood was found in the samples provided.

If your test is positive, you will be contacted by a health professional or your GP practice.

All men and women between 50 and 74 are sent a kit every two years.

If you’re between these ages, and you haven’t completed one in the last two years, or are over the age of 74, you can find out about getting one by calling the Scottish Bowel Screening Helpline on 0800 0121 833.

While the screening programme remains the best way to detect bowel cancer you should never ignore changes to your health.

Make an appointment with your GP if you spot any unusual or persistent changes to your bowel movements, even in between screenings.

For more information visit call the helpline or visit the website