Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson has welcomed news that the number of men being tested for bowel cancer is at its highest ever level in Scotland.

NHS statistics show 61.6% of men invited to take part in home screening returned the test between November 2017 and October 2018 – a significant rise from the 52.3% who did so in the previous 12 months.

Among women, the participation rate increased from 58.5% to 66.1%.

All men and women aged 50 to 74 in Scotland are invited every two years to take part in bowel screening. A new, simpler home screening test was introduced in November 2017. It requires the collection of just one bowel motion sample, while the previous test meant people had to take three samples over 10 days.

Since the new test was launched, the participation rate among people living in the most deprived areas also increased significantly – from 41.7% to 51.7%.

Mr Matheson said: “Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland, with about 4,000 people affected every year. Diagnosing it early is key, because it means you’re 14 times more likely to survive.

“It good to see that the new test is encouraging a growing number of men, who are more likely than women to develop bowel cancer, to take part in screening – and also that it is helping to address health inequalities by boosting the uptake in our more deprived areas.

“I hope this upward trend will continue and urge all constituents who are sent a screening kit to make use of this free, simple-to-use and potentially life-saving test.