New bowel cancer test goes on trial in NHS Tayside
A pilot scheme to improve the detection of bowel cancer has been launched in NHS Tayside.
The pilot is funded through a £39m Scottish government scheme that aims to detect cancer early.
The programme will make a new test available to patients who turn up at their GP with symptoms of the disease.
Previously, patients would have been immediately sent for a colonoscopy, but researchers at Ninewells Hospital say they have developed a better method.
The scientists, working with the University of Dundee, have created a new test which uses a faeces sample to test for blood content which can be a sign of cancer or bowel disease.
If blood is undetectable, this could rule out the need for a colonoscopy for many patients and speed the investigation of those that do.
The new test will be available at all GP practices in NHS Tayside during the pilot, which was launched at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee by Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison.
Ms Robison said: "The NHS in Scotland is committed to ensuring swift access to diagnostic testing and treatment for all patients in Scotland and we will watch this pilot with interest.
"Cancer services in Scotland have improved significantly over the past decade and increasing numbers of people are surviving cancer due to early detection and advances in medical treatment."
Bowel cancer is Scotland's third most common cancer, but there is a more than 90% chance of successful treatment if it is detected early enough.
The NHS Tayside pilot will run until June 2016 and will cost £35,000.