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Scottish Bowel Screening Programme


NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland

Scottish Bowel Screening Programme

Bowel Cancer in Scotland

Bowel cancer (or colorectal cancer) is a major public health problem in Scotland, which has a higher rate of bowel cancer than most other countries in the Western world. In Scotland it is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women with approximately 3,700 new cases diagnosed in 2015. Ninety-five percent of cases occur in people aged over 50 years. Over the last 10 years, bowel cancer incidence and mortality rates (2005-2015) in Scotland have decreased1 in both sexes. Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death for both men and women with around 1,600 people dying of the disease in Scotland each year. The five year relative survival rate is approximately 60% for both sexes.

Bowel cancer screening can identify pre-cancerous signs in men and women who otherwise have no symptoms, and thus abnormalities can be investigated and treated. Treatment at this stage is usually very effective.

Scottish Bowel Screening Programme

The Scottish Bowel Screening Programme commenced a phased roll out in June 2007 and by December 2009 all NHS Boards in Scotland were participating in the Programme. All men and women registered with a Community Health Index (CHI) number and aged 50-74 years are invited to participate and be screened every two years. From April 2013 those over the age of 74 can now self-refer and opt into bowel screening.

Eligible men and women are posted a guaiac-based faecal occult blood test kit (FOBT) which should be completed at home. This involves collecting 2 samples from each of 3 separate bowel movements. The kit is returned in a prepaid envelope to the central screening centre in Dundee and tested for hidden traces of blood in the stool. Individuals who have a positive FOBT result are referred to their local hospital for assessment and, where appropriate, offered a colonoscopy as the first line of investigation.

Detailed information about the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme can be found on the bowel screening pages on the NHS Inform website.

Up to 31 October 2016 in the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme

  • Over 2.2 million people invited
  • Nearly 1.4 million took up the offer and achieved a final result
  • Over 5,000 cancers diagnosed through screening

Scottish Bowel Screening Programme Key Performance Indicators

These indicators were developed to monitor and evaluate the impact of the screening programme. It must be noted that NHS Boards have been participating in the programme for different lengths of time, so some are in their prevalence round whilst others are in their incidence rounds. The KPIs are reported for a two year (screening) period and the latest report of the Key Performance Indicators for the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme can be viewed by following this link: KPI Report published August 2017 Download Excel file.

Older versions of the KPI Report are available by clicking on the icons below.

Notes:1 Estimated 10-year change in age-adjusted incidence rates, calculated using Poisson regression analyses.

© ISD Scotland 2010
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