Male bowel cancer rates rise higher than womens

BOWEL cancer rates among men in Scotland have risen by more than 30 per cent in the last 35 years, while women have seen an increase of only 5 per cent.

The new statistics released by Cancer Research UK highlight a worrying difference in rates of diagnosis and treatment between the sexes.

The charity is now urging the Scottish Government to introduce a new test which can reduce the risk of bowel cancer by up to a third.

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Rates have climbed from 51 cases per 100,000 men in 1975-77 to 67 cases in 2008-10, an overall rise of 31 per cent. Cases in women have only increased from 41-43 per 100,000 over the same time period, a rise of 5 per cent.

The largest increase in those diagnosed with the disease has been among people in their 60s and 70s, with more than 2,300 now diagnosed in Scotland each year.

Bowel cancer is now the second largest cause of cancer death in Scotland.

But despite the increase in cases, bowel cancer survival is largely improving year on year, with half of all patients living for at least ten years following diagnosis.

Cancer Research UK is calling for the introduction of the bowel scope test in Scotland, which is being introduced across England in the next few months.

The test, also known as Flexi-Scope, uses a bendy tube which has contains a tiny camera and light, allowing the doctor to look at the inside wall of the bowel and remove any small growths or polyps.

Vicky Crichton of Cancer Research UK, said: “The national bowel screening programme in Scotland has been important in picking up cancer in its earlier stages, when treatment is more likely to be successful.

“This is something that is currently being considered by the Scottish Government and we would urge its introduction into the bowel screening programme here soon. Unlike some screening tests that only focus on catching cancer early, this test also reduces the chance of bowel cancer developing in the first place.

“Bowel scope screening has been found to reduce the occurrence of bowel cancer in people aged 55-64 in those screened by a third, and its introduction marks another step towards giving people the best possible chance of beating cancer.”

From this month the government is extending the bowel screening programme for men and women between the ages of 50 and 74 being invited to participate in screening every two years.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “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.”

Case study: Sandy Lawrence, 61, was diagnosed with cancer in 2003

Someone who is well aware of the importance of bowel cancer screening is Sandy Lawrence.

The engineering salesman was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2003. Mr Lawrence, 61, of Bankfoot, Perth, says the screening test saved his life. He also revealed he almost failed to send back his test – but was convinced to post it by his wife.

Mr Lawrence said: “I admit that after I received the test in the post, it was something I did reluctantly and I had to be persuaded by my wife.

“But it’s a decision that I now know saved my life.

“If I’d left it any longer, I may not have been here today to spend time with my grandchildren.

“Taking the test was absolutely crucial to my survival.”