The number of men being tested for bowel cancer is at its highest ever level in Scotland.
In November 2017 Scotland became the first part of the UK to introduce a simpler home screening test for bowel cancer.
Statistics for the first full year of the new home test’s use show 61.6 per cent of men returned the test between November 2017 to October 2018 – compared to 52.3 per cent using the old test in the same period the year before.
There has also been an increase in testing by those in the most deprived areas – up from 41.7 per cent to 51.7 per cent.
Uptake amongst those who had never participated before has also increased significantly from 7.8 per cent to 18.9 per cent.
Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “Since the introduction of the new home test more people than ever before are being screened for bowel cancer.
“It is particularly encouraging to see an increase in participation from groups who tend to have lower uptake, including men and those who live in more deprived communities.
“We know that the earlier a cancer is detected, the greater the chances of successful treatment and often cure.
“This is why we launched our Detect Cancer Early programme in 2012 backed by a £42 million investment.
“Screening remains the best way to find bowel cancer early and help reduce health inequalities in cancer outcomes.”
Overall the combined number of men and women doing the new, easier bowel screening test increased from 55 per cent to 64 per cent.
The new Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) test requires the collection of just one bowel motion sample.
It replaced the Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), which required people to return three samples over a 10-day period.
Bowel cancer is Scotland’s second biggest cancer killer, resulting in more than 1600 deaths per year.
Early detection can increase survival rates for the disease to more than nine in 10, with screening saving hundreds of lives a year.
The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh stressed the importance of the bowel screening test.
Dr Deepak Dwarakanath, Fellow of The Royal College, said: “Although the causes of bowel cancer are relatively unknown, there are controllable and non-controllable factors which can play a contributory role.
“The controllable factors include diet, obesity, smoking, alcohol and physical inactivity.
“It’s therefore important that as a population we get more active, cut down on alcohol, stop smoking, and maintain a healthy diet to reduce our chances of developing bowel cancer and other types of cancer.
“Factors such as age, genetic disorders, and family history can make developing bowel cancer more likely too.
“It is important, therefore, that men and women aged 50 to 74 complete the bowel screening test when they receive their kit from the Scottish Bowel Screening Centre.
“Those who are 75 or over can still take a bowel screening test every two years, although they must request a new test kit each time.”