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Bowel cancer screening for Scotland

13th March 2007

Scotland has announced plans to introduce screening for age groups vulnerable to bowel cancer.

The nationwide scheme will be aimed at those aged between 50 and 74, which will include about 650,000 people.

Those targeted will receive home test kits annually and will be screened every two years.

The scheme is expected to save up to 150 lives each year, as it seeks to tackle Scotland's third most common cancer. In 2005, 1,550 people in Scotland died from bowel cancer.

Liz Duncan, director of Help the Aged in Scotland, said: "Once again we must congratulate Scotland for leading the way. There is no doubt that bowel cancer screening will save lives."

Andy Kerr, health minister, said: "When it comes to cancer, early diagnosis and treatment can mean the difference between life and death. That's why we're investing £9 million a year…in the UK's most comprehensive bowel screening programme.

"Experts have suggested that after the smoking ban, this is the most significant policy decision in the cancer area for many years."

He went on to stress the importance of those eligible for screening to make use of the test kits.

Following the success of the pilot test currently running in Tayside, Grampian and Fife, the roll out of the scheme will begin in June, with all boards involved by 2009.