A new, simpler bowel cancer screening test has seen levels of participation rise to a record high.
Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson has welcomed official figures that show 64% of people in Scotland who were sent a faecal immunochemical test (FIT) kit between November 2017 and April 2018 took part in the screening programme.
In the same period the year before, uptake of the old faecal occult blood test was 56%.
The FIT test requires the collection of just one sample, rather than the three samples over a 10-day period for the previous test. Scotland was the first part of the UK to introduce the new test in November 2017.
The improved uptake was most significant among people living in deprived areas – up from 42% to 52% – and among men – a rise from 53% to 62%.
People aged 50 to 74 are invited every two years to take part in bowel screening, with a free test kit being sent to their home.
Figures for the period from May 2016 to April 2018 show 58.5% of eligible people in Forth Valley returned samples, which was slightly above the national average of 57.5%.
Mr Matheson said: “This first set of figures since the introduction of the FIT test is extremely encouraging, not least because it is clearly helping to address health inequalities by leading to a much better response from people in more deprived areas.
“I’m also encouraged by the improved uptake among men, who are more likely than women to develop bowel cancer, which is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK.
“This simple screening test is the best way to get diagnosed at the earliest stage, when the cancer is easier to treat and almost always curable.
“It’s good to see that the uptake in Forth Valley is already above the national average but, having backed Bowel Cancer UK’s awareness campaigns before, I once again urge all constituents who are sent a testing kit to use it. It’s free, simple to use and could save your life.”