A specialist cancer nurse from NHS Lanarkshire is urging people aged between 50 and 74 to take up the offer of a free bowel screening test.
Eleanor Rae, a colorectal nurse specialist for NHS Lanarkshire says that completing a routine bowel screening test can save your life.
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland. Approximately 4,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year.
The Scottish Bowel Screening Programme will invite all men and women in Scotland between the ages of 50 to 74 for screening every two years. Last year in Lanarkshire, only 47 per cent completed the test that they were sent.
Eleanor said: “Changes in your bowel habits, bleeding from your bottom, abdominal pains, bloating and weight loss are some of the signs of bowel cancer.
“However, a lot of people are unaware that the early signs of bowel cancer are very subtle and sometimes can be overlooked. Although cancer is more common in older people, it can happen at any age, so it is important that everyone is aware of the signs.
“Bowel screening aims to find bowel cancer at an early stage in people who have no symptoms.
“It looks for hidden blood in the bowel motion, as this may suggest a higher chance of bowel cancer.
The earlier bowel cancer is detected the easier it is for us to treat, giving you a better chance of a successful outcome. However, less than half of those people who are invited actually participate in the bowel screening programme, which is very disappointing.
“Nine out of 10 people will survive bowel cancer, if it’s detected early. ”
Lanarkshire residents aged between 50 and 74 will receive the bowel screening test through the post every two years.
It is important that the test is carried out every two years to make sure that there are no changes to the bowel in between screenings.
About 10 out of 500 people taking the test will have blood in their bowel motion. When these 10 people have the recommended follow up tests, it is likely that one person will have cancer.
If you want more information about the Scottish Bowel Screening programme, visit the website www.bowelscreening.scot.nhs.uk