New bowel cancer screening is saving lives

NINETEEN people in Lothian are receiving early treatment for one of Scotland's biggest killers after their condition was detected by a new bowel cancer screening programme.

Their treatment will be less radical and ultimately more successful than if the cancer had been discovered at a later stage.

The programme was launched in Lothian in May 2008. Over two years, everyone in Lothian aged between 50 and 74 is being sent a testing kit, which should be returned using the provided envelopes.

Around 8,000 people a month are receiving the kits.

Dr Dermot Gorman, leading the new screening programme for Lothian, said:

"Our experience of the first few months of the programme in Lothian show it's paying off. Catching cancer early is huge importance in subsequent successful treatment.
"I would urge anyone who receives a postal testing kit to please protect themselves by following the instructions and returning their sample as soon as they can. The test is easy to do and this screening programme will continue to save lives."

Internal monitoring of the programme shows 19 people are now being treated because they took part in screening. Previously, it is likely they would remained unaware of their condition until the cancer had developed, causing obvious symptoms such as blood in faeces.

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland. Every year 3,500 people are diagnosed with the disease and 1,600 people die from it. Men are at higher risk than women.

The Lothian programme is part of a national bowel cancer screening programme being introduced across Scotland. Previous pilots in NHS Tayside and NHS Grampian have already proved that this screening programme will save lives. NHS Lothian has employed additional staff and increased clinical capacity to handle the workload linked to earlier detection.