Welsh bowel screening programme detects 25 cases in six months

In collaboration with the Press Association

The first six months of the new NHS bowel cancer screening programme in Wales has resulted in the detection of 25 cases of the disease.

Since the programme was introduced in October 2008, more than 80,000 home bowel cancer testing kits have been sent to people in Wales.

The kit allows the user to collect samples of their bowel movements on a specially designed card, which is then placed inside a freepost envelope and sent off for laboratory analysis.

Figures show that almost 60 per cent of people between the ages of 60 and 69 used their screening kit and sent it off for free analysis during the first 12 weeks of the service.

In these initial stages of the programme, kits are only being sent to people between the ages of 60 and 69.

By 2011, the upper age limit should have been raised to 74 and by 2015, all men and women in Wales between the ages of 50 and 74 should receive a testing kit every two years.

Hayley Heard, head of Bowel Screening Wales, revealed: "Regular bowel screening has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16 per cent.

"If bowel cancer is picked up early enough, then it's more likely that the disease can be treated successfully."

Figures show that around 2,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in Wales and 1,000 people die from the disease.

However, if the disease is picked up at an early stage - which the new screening programme aims to do - it is one of the most treatable forms of cancer.

Henry Scowcroft, science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "Screening saves lives. It's great to hear that the Welsh bowel screening programme is off to a positive start, and we look forward to more good news as the programme rolls out further."

One of the first people to be diagnosed with bowel cancer through the screening programme is 62-year-old Jennifer Kerr from Bettws, near Newport.

She said: "I'm very pleased that I received the test kit and the cancer was picked up at an early stage.

"My advice to anybody is to do the test when you receive it - it could save your life."