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Health Secretary Shona Robison has stated that it is ‘hugely encouraging’ that more over-50s have been taking part in the Scottish Government’s national bowel cancer screening programme.
Bowel cancer tester kits have been sent out to the homes of eligible men and women between the 6th October and 6th November. The test, which includes taking a sample of three separate bowel movements, are returned to healthcare professionals using the postal service.
Bowel cancer is one of the top-occurring cancers in Scotland, but can be cured easily if it is caught in the early stages. Unfortunately, due to the stigma surrounding some of the symptoms of the condition, individuals do not seek medical advice until the condition is more advanced.
Ms Robison stated: “The early symptoms are often hidden so the best way to find it is to do the test.”
Health officials for the pilot scheme have stated that a more discreet storage device for the personal samples are being trialled in order to make the initiative more appealing and easier for people at home.
Professor Robert Steele is director of the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme and 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.”
Phyllis Weir is one person who highlights the importance of the test. A 62 year-old grandmother from Lanarkshire, she was diagnosed with the disease in November 2013 after completing a test she received in the post.
She had always led a healthy lifestyle and had not experienced any symptoms but had instead seen people close to her become affected by the disease, so didn’t want to chance it.
“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.” She said.
“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.”
She added, “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 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.”