IN a week when it was reported that the region was the fourth highest in Scotland for the number of bowel cancer-related deaths, NHS Borders has revealed that just over half the people offered screening for the disease in the past year took up the invitation.
Figures published by the charity Beating Bowel Cancer, revealed that the Borders had a death rate of 25.2 per cent (per 100,000 population), with only Glasgow (31.1), Orkney (29.9) and Falkirk (27.6) ranking higher. In contrast, Stirling only had a bowel cancer death rate of 10 per cent and the lowest rates in the UK were in Rossendale, Lancashire and Crawley at 9.2 per cent.
Last month, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon urged people to take up the offer of bowel cancer screening and doing the same, Dr Tim Patterson, consultant in public health with NHS Borders, said: “Cancer Research UK has calculated that if bowel cancer is caught early enough it can be cured in more than 90 per cent of cases, but the disease still causes around 50 new cases and 15 deaths in the Borders each year.
Only 58 per cent of the 16,000 people offered the screening in the first year of the programme in the Borders took up the test.
“Bowel cancer often has no early warning signs so it’s important that even if people feel well, they should do the test as the chances of beating bowel cancer are very high when it is found early.”
Beating Bowel Cancer’s chief executive, Mark Flanagan added: “Too many people are dying from bowel cancer no matter where they live. Deaths from the disease could and should be less common. Early diagnosis is key so we are calling on people to take responsibility for their bowel cancer risk.