THE NHS are encouraging men and women between the ages of 50 and 74 to complete a
bowel screening test to help detect possible signs of bowel cancer at an early stage.
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Britain and 70% of those affected are over
the age of 65. There are over 40,000 cases of bowel cancer in the UK each year however,
with bowel screening; the diagnosis of those affected can be significantly improved.
Despite a higher uptake level than the national average in Inverness and the population
around the Moray Firth – at 62.4% – the Nairn Healthcare Group are urging more people to
take part. In the case of many people, the test can be instrumental in detecting cancer and
If the cancer is detected at an early stage, it greatly increases the chances of a positive
outcome. Through the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme individuals can take part in a
free home-screening test in which the abnormal presence of blood in bowel motions can be
detected and investigated – as this symptom can indicate a higher risk of bowel cancer.
Mr William Bower, 67, formerly of Nairn, discovered that he had a tumour in his bowel after
submitting a test to the Bowel Screening Centre last year.
Mr Bower, who is now recovering after successful surgery to remove the tumour, said:
“After the third occasion that I had taken the test, the Scottish Bowel Screening Centre
offered me a colonoscopy as they have found abnormalities in the results.”
The test is done individually at home and returned to the bowel screening centre, where the
results are analysed. Participants whose tests show abnormalities are then offered further
tests (e.g. a colonoscopy) by the NHS to try to detect early signs of bowel cancer.
The procedure was simple and Mr Bower was told of the outcome of it straight away. The
test had detected a small tumour in his colon that a biopsy revealed to be malignant and he
was able to have surgery to remove it shortly afterwards.
“I am extremely thankful that I took the time to complete the test each time it was sent to
me,” said Mr Bower. “Thanks to the bowel screening programme, the tumour was
discovered at an early stage and had not spread any further.”
If bowel cancer is detected and removed before it spreads to the lymph nodes, further
treatments such as chemotherapy are not required. The NHS offers free tests and screenings
to all people aged over 50 and the Nairn Healthcare Group aims to increase uptake of
individuals in the area taking the test.
The Scottish Bowel Screening Centre recommends that the test is carried out once every two
years for people between 50 and 74 years of age.
Mr Bower continued: “I tell everyone I know what an important thing bowel screening is. For
such a simple and quick process it can have life-changing consequences. I am deeply grateful
to the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme and to the NHS – both for providing the test and
for the wonderful care and support I received at Raigmore Hospital during my treatment.”
A free test set should arrive by post on your 50th birthday and once every two years
thereafter. The assessment is non-intrusive and simple and the results can have a vital
impact on your health. As a result, the Nairn Healthcare Group asks those in the target age
bracket to please consider participating in the Bowel Screening Programme.
For further information, or if you have any questions, please contact the Scottish Bowel
Screening Centre free phone helpline on 0800 0121 833, Monday-Friday 8am-5pm