Detect Cancer Early

Campaign to reduce fear of cancer underway.

A campaign is aiming to change the way cancer is viewed in Scotland, ensuring people act early to improve their chances of survival - for example by posting a completed bowel screening test, attending a mammogram or having a prostate examination.

The Scottish Government's Detect Cancer Early Programme, which has been running since 2012, has made progress in increasing the proportion of early stage diagnoses of bowel, breast and lung cancer in Scotland.

However with research highlighting that fear of a potential cancer diagnosis continues to stop people acting, the campaign aims to reinforce the fact that more people survive cancer than die from it, and empower people to take responsibility for getting any potential signs or symptoms checked early.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

"This campaign is about highlighting how we can all play a part in continuing to boost cancer survival rates in Scotland.

"More people are surviving cancer than ever before, but we know that fear of cancer is putting people off getting checked or attending screening, when invited.

"This latest campaign has been developed to remind people across Scotland of their resilience and strength, in the hope that they'll act early to give themselves the best chance of finding cancer early."

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith said:

"There are now many cancers where the earlier it is found, the easier it is to treat and the higher your chance of survival.

"If you notice any potential signs or symptoms, please do see your doctor, who will want to discuss them with you. Don't put any concerns to the back of your mind."

Case study

Colin Thompson was diagnosed with prostate cancer after seeing his GP early with a concern. The 61-year-old from Fortrose raised the fact he was peeing more frequently, which lead to tests confirming he had early stage prostate cancer.

The father of two underwent surgery in July 2013 to have his prostate removed and is now back to full health, running the hotel he owns with his wife Ros in Dornoch. 

Colin said:

"I put my frequency of peeing down to the cold weather and getting older.  When I talked to my GP, he gave me a blood test and then I was sent for a biopsy.  A week later I was told I had prostate cancer.  When I was sent for an MRI I felt like a bit of a fraud, as other than going to the toilet a lot, I felt completely fine.

"The tumour was bigger than they had initially thought, so I'm so glad I went to the doctors when I did.  I hate to think what would have happened if I'd left it any longer.

"We welcomed our granddaughter Harriet two and a half years ago, and my two sons have started their own business which is doing incredibly well. I'm immensely proud of them and very lucky to be here to see it all happening.

"A lot of people, especially men, can be reluctant to go to their doctor when they're worried about their health.  That needs to change.  If you're worried, get it checked out."


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Around 16,800 men and women diagnosed with cancer this year will survive.

There are around 186,500 people in Scotland who have been diagnosed with cancer over the last 20 years who are still alive today.

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