A groundbreaking campaign has been launched to encourage people between the ages of 50 and 74 to participate in bowel screening, and is part of the Scottish Government’s £30 million Detect Cancer Early drive, which aims to increase the early detection of cancer by 25 per cent. It features the voice of Still Game star, Ford Kiernan, speaking to a man sitting on the toilet, encouraging him to take the bowel screening test.
It carries the message ‘Bowel Cancer. Don’t Take A Chance. Take The Test’, and aims to highlight the fact that bowel cancer is a ‘hidden’ cancer because the early signs are often not visible. It also promotes the message that nine out of 10 people will survive bowel cancer if it is detected early.
The drive comes on the back of the Scottish Government’s widely successful breast cancer campaign, featuring Elaine C Smith, which has received over 130,000 views on youtube – the most for any Scottish Government video.
The breast cancer advert has proven to be influential, with over half of women aged over 45 who saw it taking action as a result, such as checking their breasts.
From April 2013, the bowel screening programme will be extended so that those over the age of 74 will be able to self-refer every two years by requesting a screening kit through the Scottish Bowel Screening Helpline.
Health Secretary Alex Neil met with Dumfries and Galloway bowel cancer survivor John Withers on Monday 18th to officially launch the bowel cancer campaign.
Mr. Neil said, “The earlier bowel cancer is detected the easier it is to treat and the better the chance of a successful outcome. That is why bowel screening is so important. I would urge all men and women, between 50 and 74 to do their screening test when it comes through their door.”
Chief Medical Officer, Sir Harry Burns, also added that he “hopes that this campaign will get people talking about bowel screening, and show that screening is the most effective way of detecting bowel cancer early.”
John Withers, 64, is a retired civil engineer and lives in Kippford, Dumfries and Galloway. The grandfather of two was diagnosed with cancer three years ago and had his colon removed after taking part in the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme.
Withers said, “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 advises others to not be frightened or be put off by the bowel screening test.
“I understand that some people, particularly men, can have an issue with taking a sample, but it’s not difficult and those few minutes doing it could save your life.”
Alex Neil also gained support from television presenter and bowel cancer survivors, Lynn Faulds, and celebrity, Sharon Osbourne who both have given their support.
Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK added at the launch, “Only 54.5 per cent of those people invited, participate in the bowel screening programme. However, statistics shows that people are 45 per cent more likely to survive bowel cancer compared to 30 years ago. The five year survival rate for bowel cancer increased from 37 per cent between 1983 and 1987, to 54 per cent between 2003 and 2007.”
“This is why it is so important that if anyone receives a screening kit that they use it and return it. Bowel cancer screening really does save lives.”