New campaign urges people to take bowel cancer tests

Community pharmacies across the Borders are joining a campaign to encourage people to consider taking the life saving bowel screening test.

Large scale posters will be displayed in the windows of over 1,200 pharmacies across Scotland to help raise awareness.

All those aged 50-74 in the Borders are eligible for screening and will be sent a home-based test kit through their letterbox every two years.

As people often use community pharmacies to seek health advice as well as get their prescriptions, information on the screening programme will also be available through a ‘Know the Facts’ leaflet.

Encouraging people to have the test, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Nicola Sturgeon, said: “Bowel cancer is one of Scotland’s most common cancers, accounting for 4000 cases and 1600 deaths a year. That’s why ensuring earlier diagnosis of this is a key feature of our Detect Cancer Early Plan.

“By detecting it in its earliest stages, before it has spread, we can help treat patients when their general health is better, potentially help them avoid more aggressive treatment, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy and increase survival rates.

“I would therefore urge all 50 to 74 year-olds to take up this opportunity for free home testing. It takes a few minutes of your time but could save your life.”

Professor Robert Steele, director of the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme commented: “95% of all cases of bowel cancer occur in those over 50, and the screening programme offers a real opportunity to identify and treat those at risk.

“The more opportunities we can use to get people to find out more and talk openly about the screening test, the greater the chance we have to save lives. Pharmacy advertising is designed to help people feel less awkward about this subject, seek information and ask questions they may have. Having this advertising at the heart of many communities in the Borders will, I hope, encourage more people here to consider taking the test.

“Lots of information is provided with the test kit when it arrives through the letterbox and information can also be accessed whenever and wherever it is convenient at www.bowelscreening.scot.nhs.uk.

“If you receive the test, please take it. It could just save your life.”

Dr Tim Patterson, consultant in public health for NHS Borders added: ““Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men after lung and prostate cancer, and in women after breast and lung cancer.

“We know that many people are too embarrassed to talk to their doctor about problems with their bowels, so we hope that this simple test, which can be done at home, will encourage people to take part in the screening. If bowel cancer is caught at an early stage, it is possible for it to be treated and cured.”