Bowel cancer survival 'more likely'

bowel cancer
Image caption Colorectal cancers killed 1,526 people in 2011

People are almost 50% more likely to survive bowel cancer compared to 30 years ago, according to Scottish government statistics.

The figures show the five-year survival rate for bowel cancer increased from 38% between 1983 to 1987, to 55% between 2003 and 2007.

The Scottish government will launch a new awareness campaign on Monday.

From April the bowel screening programme will be extended to those over the age of 74.

Currently, men and women aged between 50 and 74 are invited to participate in screening every two years.

The bowel cancer drive will focus on the importance of screening in increasing the early detection of bowel cancer, and encourage all men and women aged over the age of 50 to participate in the screening programme.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "These statistics are encouraging and show that today people are far more likely to survive bowel cancer than they were 30 years ago.

"However, there are still far too many people being diagnosed with bowel cancer at the later stages.

"Participating in the bowel screening programme gives the best chance of detecting bowel cancer early. When bowel cancer is detected at an early stage it is treatable and nine out of 10 people beat it."

Deborah Alsina, from the charity Bowel Cancer UK, said: "We are delighted to be supporting the Detect Cancer Early awareness campaign. Bowel cancer is very treatable especially if diagnosed at an early stage.

"This is why it is so important that if anyone receives a screening kit that they use it and return it. Bowel cancer screening really does save lives."

In 2010, only 15% of bowel cancers were detected at the earliest stage, but cancer was almost twice as likely (28%) to be diagnosed at the earliest stage through screening.

Colorectal cancers killed 1,526 people in Scotland in 2011.

Overall cancer death rates have fallen 12% over the past decade.

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