Scottish Government
Printable version

Bowel screening participation increases

More than one million tests returned.

The number of people undertaking home bowel screening tests in Scotland is higher than ever before, figures published today show.

For the first time more than a million people in Scotland invited for screening in a two-year period (between November 2012 and October 2014) successfully completed and returned their testing kits.

Uptake between those dates was 57.6 per cent, with around 26,000 more kits returned compared to the two-year period November 2011 to October 2013

The largest increase in uptake was in the most deprived 20 per cent of areas – an increase of nearly two percentage points compared to the previous two year period.

The home bowel screening test is the most effective way to find bowel cancer early – when it can often be cured. Of those who completed their kit, two per cent received a positive test result and of those, 6.9 per cent had bowel cancer.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

“Any rise in screening rates must be welcomed, and for the number of bowel screening participants to exceed one million for the first time is fantastic news.

“However, there are people out there who still put it off and I want to take this opportunity to urge them to take part.

“It’s a well-known fact that the earlier we detect cancer, the more positive the outlook: nine out of 10 people will survive bowel cancer if it is detected early. We also know that the home screening kit is the best way to find the disease early.

“Nearly two-thirds of screen detected cancers were caught at the earliest two stages, giving those patients a better chance of successful treatment.

“I’m pleased to see that the largest increase in uptake has been in deprived areas. We must now continue to work hard to tackle health inequalities and ensure that everyone in Scotland has the best chance of beating cancer.

“Our Detect Cancer Early bowel screening campaign encourages more people in Scotland to take up the offer of the free test. I’d reiterate that message now - don’t take a chance, take the test.”

Notes To Editors

The Scottish Bowel Screening Programme commenced a phased roll-out in June 2007 with all NHS Boards in Scotland participating since December 2009.

All men and women aged between 50-74 years are invited to participate and to be screened every two years. Eligible men and women are posted a home testing kit, to be returned in a prepaid envelope and tested.

This publication includes data from all NHS Boards for people invited between 1 November 2012 and 31 October 2014.

The full publication can be found here:

In February 2012 the Scottish Government launched the Detect Cancer Early programme with the aim of increasing the early detection of cancer by 25 per cent. The target concentrates on breast, colorectal (bowel) and lung cancers. Part of this initiative has been focusing on raising awareness of bowel screening.


Channel website:

Share this article

Latest News from
Scottish Government