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About 20,000 patients from areas of Scotland including Tayside, Fife, Grampian and Glasgow health board regions are to be offered a new type of screening process which detects bowel cancer.
The new technique, scope screening, involves using a tube with a tiny camera on the end that allows medics to see the lower part of the large bowel, detecting any polyps which could eventually become cancerous. Samples are then taken if doctors identify any abnormal areas, with the whole procedure lasting around 15 minutes.
Men and women around the age of 60 will be invited to take part in the bowel scope screening and it could be rolled out across the country if the trial is successful. Scope screening for this type of detection process has had similar trials in the rest of the UK, and it will run alongside the existing screening programme which involves patients using home testing kits.
Bowel cancer is the third most common form of cancer in Scotland, with over 4,000 cases diagnosed each year.
One man who was given the all-clear after an early detection of bowel cancer is encouraging others to get checked. John Withers, 65, was diagnosed with cancer three years ago after taking part in the current screening programme.
Mr Withers commented, “I would not have known that I had bowel cancer until it was very advanced if it hadn’t been for the screening programme. There is no doubt that the bowel screening programme saved my life.”
Withers, a retired engineer, underwent successful surgery at Dumfries and Galloway Infirmary less than a week after his diagnosis. “I am glad to see that bowel scope screening is now being offered to people in Scotland and would advise anyone asked to take part in this programme to do so – it could save your life. Cancer is not as scary as it once was and it can be very treatable so don’t put off taking the test.”
Alex Neil, Health Secretary, said the level of participation in the scope screening pilots would be analysed before deciding whether to extend the programme to a more permanent and nationwide screening effort.
He said, “We know that nine out of ten people will survive bowel cancer is it is detected early. What’s more, bowel cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, especially when it’s caught early and screening helps us to do exactly that.”