Around 750 lives have been saved in Scotland since the introduction of the national bowel screening programme in 2007.
The figures have been revealed to coincide with Nudge Day, a national day of action to encourage Scots to ‘nudge’ older family members to get tested for bowel cancer.
Since the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme was introduced, it is estimated that around 750 premature deaths from bowel cancer have been prevented.
The latest figures show that just over half of those eligible for the programme actually do the test (54.5 per cent).
As part of Nudge Day (#nudgeday), family and friends are being urged to encourage people aged 50-74 to do the test.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “Figures show that just over half of those eligible to participate in the screening programme actually do the test, yet our latest statistics show that around 750 premature deaths have been prevented since the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme began six years ago.
“Bowel cancer can have a devastating effect on families across Scotland and the number of lives saved could be far higher if more people took the screening test.
“Everyone has a part to play in encouraging parents and older family members to take the test, as it is the best way to detect the hidden signs of bowel cancer.”
The day ties in with the recent ditty, ‘The Poo Song’, released as part of the Scottish Government’s Detect Cancer Early programme, which has already had over 30,000 hits on youtube in one week.
It was created to increase awareness of bowel cancer and aimed at younger people to encourage them to urge their parents and older members of their family to do the bowel screening test.
Mr Neil added: “We think this catchy tune will put bowel cancer at the front of people’s minds. Although light-hearted, the message is serious; nine out of ten people survive bowel cancer if it’s detected early and screening could save your life.”
Emma Anderson from Bowel Cancer UK said: “We encourage everyone across Scotland to get behind Nudge Day. Bowel cancer is very treatable, especially if diagnosed at an early stage so it is important to use and return a screening kit if you receive it. Some people are uncomfortable about doing it or talking about the subject but family and friends should do everything they can to encourage those eligible to do the test.”