Scotland

More over-50s in Scotland use bowel cancer home-testing kits

Bowel cancer Image copyright Spl
Image caption Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland

Bowel cancer tester kits are being used by an increasing number of people over the age of 50 in Scotland.

The screening has been designed to detect the early stage of cancer when symptoms are not always obvious.

This year there was a 9% increase in use of the kits which were posted to eligible men and women between 6 October and 6 November.

The test involves taking a sample of three separate bowel motions which are returned in the post for screening.

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland but can be cured if caught in the early stages.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said it was "hugely encouraging" that more over-50s were taking part in the Scottish government's national programme to beat the disease.

She added: "The early symptoms are often hidden so the best way to find it is to do the test. If you haven't done one for two years, or need a replacement, call the helpline today on 0800 0121 833."

Health officials have confirmed that a new, discreet storage device is being trialled to help make both taking and storing the test at home as easy as possible.

There's nothing to be embarrassed about, the test is quick and simple and can be done in the privacy of your own home - and most importantly, it could save your life

Professor Robert Steele

Phyllis Weir, a 62-year-old grandmother from Lanark, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in November 2013 after completing the test she received in the post.

She led a healthy lifestyle and had no symptoms but had seen several people close to her affected by cancer so did not want to take any chances.

Ms Weir said: "I was asked to do a second test which was followed by a colonoscopy where doctors spotted something they believed to be a tumour.

"I knew it couldn't be anything like IBS as I didn't suffer from any symptoms, so within five days tests confirmed my worst fear that it was, in fact, cancer.

Image caption The bowel screening kit is posted out to the over 50s in Scotland

"Two weeks later I had surgery to remove the tumour followed by six months of chemotherapy. From November I was clear of cancer but the chemo was recommended as a precaution for the future.

"I still remember that day in November like it was yesterday as I was terrified that doctors wouldn't even be able to treat me, so to get the news that the surgery was successful was just fantastic.

"Thankfully I did the test when I did. It literally takes a matter of minutes but some people think it's messy and there seems to be a lot of stigma surrounding doing it.

"At the end of the day it could save your life and I would recommend anyone who receives the test just to do it."

Professor Robert Steele, director of the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme, said: "There's nothing to be embarrassed about, the test is quick and simple and can be done in the privacy of your own home. Most importantly, it could save your life.

"So when your kit drops through your letterbox, don't delay."

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