New bowel screening test leads to increase in uptake

Figures exceed Healthcare Improvement Scotland standard for first time.

A new, simpler bowel screening test has seen levels of participation rise to a record high.

Scotland was the first part of the UK to introduce the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) in November 2017. The new test requires the collection of just one sample, rather than three over a 10 day period as was previously the case.

Statistics show that from November 2017 to April 2018, 64% of those eligible returned their FIT. In the same period the year before, uptake of the old test (the Faecal Occult Blood Test) was 56%.

The biggest improvement in participation with FIT has been amongst those living in the most deprived areas – up from 42.0% to 51.8%.

The number of men doing the test also rose by more than nine percentage points, from 52.6% to 61.8% and there has been a marked increase (8.2% to 18.4%) in uptake amongst those who had never participated before, but previously had the opportunity to.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:

“The fact that more people than ever before are taking part in the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme is very encouraging."

“We know that the earlier a cancer is detected, the greater the chances of successful treatment and often cure. This is why we launched our Detect Cancer Early programme in 2012 backed by a £42 million investment."

"Screening remains one of the most effective ways to find bowel cancer early and help reduce health inequalities in cancer outcomes. This is why I’m delighted to see one of the biggest improvements was amongst those living in deprived areas.”


In Scotland men and women aged 50 to 74 are invited every two years to take part in bowel screening.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland has set a standard of 60% for Bowel Screening participation.

£5 million of funding from the Scottish Government’s £100 million Cancer Strategy is being invested in the national cancer screening programmes, including bowel, to encourage those who are eligible to take up their invite. This funding is targeted towards increasing participation in areas of deprivation and other areas where uptake is lowest.

Scottish Bowel Screening statistics can be read here

All changes are referred to in percentage points, not straight percentages.





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