The University of St Andrews has announced that women are risking their lives by not taking part in bowel screening tests, according to new research.
A research team at the University found that while 81% of women took part in cervical cancer screening and 73% in breast cancer screening, only 60% of women took part in bowel screening. It also reported that younger women, those from more deprived areas and those with other conditions were less likely to take part in any of the screening programmes.
Early detection in bowel cancer is paramount, as the disease is treatable and curable - especially if diagnosed early.
The statistics were published in the British Journal of Cancer, after the team analysed anonymised health records for more than 430,000 women in the Glasgow area for each of the three screening programmes to examine which women did and did not take part in. In particular they focussed on the 68,324 women who were eligible to take part in all three programmes.
The study found, in addition to the statistics, that women who took part in the breast or cervical screening programmes were also more likely to take part in the bowel screening.
Professor McCowan, professor of Health Data Science at St Andrews, said that “This is the first study we know of that has looked at how individual women participate across all three available screening programmes. This research shows that there is still work to do to encourage women to take part in all three programmes but especially bowel screening.
“Exploring the characteristics of the groups of women least likely to take part in screening can help inform us when developing new ways to encourage participation.”
Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where the cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer, and is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK. Most people diagnosed with it are over the age of 60.