New bowel cancer screening test launched

A new simpler test to detect the symptoms of bowel cancer has been launched after a successful pilot.

The Scottish Bowel Screening Programme is transitioning from the current guaiac faecal occult blood test (gFOBT) to the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) – a move that reduces the number of stool samples required.

It is expected that this simpler and more user friendly test will lead to increased participation across all social groups.

The switch to the new test has been accomplished with collaboration between our National Specialist and Screening Services and our IT teams, as well as Health Scotland, NHS Tayside, and both internal and external stakeholders from across NHS Scotland, Scottish Government, and public representation.

Individuals living in Scotland aged between 50 and 74 who are registered on the Community Health Index will continue to be invited by post to participate in bowel screening every two years. Anyone aged 75 or over can opt into the screening programme by contacting the bowel screening centre via email or on 0800 0121 833.

Bowel cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women in Scotland. Around 3,700 new cases were diagnosed in 2015, with 95% of cases occurring in the over-50s.

Visiting the Scottish bowel screening lab in Dundee's Ninewells Hospital, Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "Early diagnosis is crucial to saving lives.

"More than 90% of bowel cancer cases can be treated successfully, if diagnosed early.

"The new test is easier to use than the previous process and this will increase the number of people completing screening.

"This will enable us to detect more conditions at an earlier stage, helping more people to beat bowel cancer than ever before."

NSS staff and Health Secretary Shona Robison launch the new bowel cancer screening test at the Scottish bowel screening lab in Dundee's Ninewells Hospital

Health Secretary Shona Robison and NSS staff launch the new new bowel cancer screening test at the Scottish bowel screening lab in Dundee's Ninewells Hospital. Pictured, left to right: Jess Brand, Senior Programme Manager Bowel Screening at NSS; Judith Strachan, Consultant Clinical Scientist at NHS Tayside; Phyllis Weir, Public Partner; Professor John Connell, Chair of NHS Tayside Board with Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport

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