HEALTH chiefs are today beginning a drive aimed at boosting the uptake of vital cancer checks in Lothian.
The latest statistics show that the region is behind the rest of Scotland in the area, with bowel cancer, breast cancer and cervical cancer screening rates remaining below the national average.
The figures show that fewer than half of those eligible – 48.9 per cent – take part in the bowel cancer screening programme after being sent testing kits in the post, compared with a national average of 51 per cent.
But a new national drive – aimed at increasing awareness of the programme – is launching today as it was announced that screening, which was previously offered to 50 to 74-year-olds, is to be extended to over-75s.
Dr Sue Payne, NHS Lothian’s screening co-ordinator, said: “NHS Lothian is promoting awareness and the benefits of screening by hosting public roadshows. We hope that by raising awareness, members of the public will be able to recognise symptoms of bowel cancer sooner rather than later.
“If we can catch a problem early through screening, treatment can be less radical and more successful than if the cancer is detected at a later stage.”
The new campaign, which the Scottish Government has claimed will be “groundbreaking”, will also include a television advert with the slogan: “Bowel Cancer. Don’t Take A Chance. Take The Test.”
Nine out of ten people with bowel cancer survive if it is caught early, with former Edinburgh MP John Barrett one of those who have been treated after cancer was detected in the screening programme.
Roadshows will stop off at busy areas such as shopping centres throughout Lothian in coming weeks.
The bowel cancer programme follows the similar breast cancer publicity blitz recently. Both are 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.
Lothian has catching up to do across the board, with the rate of uptake for breast cancer screening at 71.8 per cent, compared with 74.9 per cent across Scotland, with only Glasgow recording worse figures.
The average uptake rate for cervical cancer screening is at 76.7 per cent – two per cent below the Scottish rate.