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15 June 2014, 06:00
A new technique to detect bowel cancer is to be trialled in parts of Scotland.
About 20,000 patients from the Fife, Glasgow, Grampian and Tayside areas will be offered scope screening which detects polyps in the bowel that could eventually become cancerous.
Scope screening uses a tube with a tiny camera on the end that allows medics to see the lower part of the large bowel.
Samples are taken if they identify any abnormal areas, with the whole procedure lasting about 15 minutes.
Men and women around the age of 60 will be invited to take part in the bowel scope screening and it could be rolled out across the country if the trial is successful, the Scottish Government said. Scope screening has had similar trials in the rest of the UK.
Bowel cancer is Scotland's third most common cancer, with almost 4,000 people diagnosed every year.
Men and women are at risk and it is more common in people over the age of 55, according to figures.
The new test will be used as well as the current bowel screening programme and home screening kits will still be distributed.
One man who was given the all-clear after an early detection of bowel cancer is encouraging others to get checked.
John Withers, 65, was diagnosed with cancer three years ago after taking part in the current screening programme.
"I would not have known that I had bowel cancer until it was very advanced if it hadn't been for the screening programme,'' he said.
"My wife was shocked and very concerned when she heard the news of my diagnosis.
"Until the operation was over there was a lot of anxiety among friends and family, but I felt prepared to cope and kept a positive attitude.
"It all happened very quickly from this point onwards. Having been given the diagnosis on the Wednesday, I was admitted to hospital on the following Saturday and had surgery on the Monday.''
The retired civil engineer had a successful operation at Dumfries and Galloway Infirmary and praised the care he received.
He said: "Since recovering from cancer it has made me reprioritise. I don't worry as much and enjoy each day. I'm more appreciative of family and friends and the time that we spend together. It's true that you can't buy happiness.
"There is no doubt that the bowel screening programme saved my life.
"I am glad to see that bowel scope screening is now being offered to people in Scotland and would advise anyone asked to take part in this programme to do so - it could save your life.
"Cancer is not as scary as it once was and it can be very treatable so don't put off taking the test.''
The results of the trial will be analysed and a decision made on whether to extend it across Scotland.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "We know that nine out of 10 people will survive bowel cancer if it is detected early.
"What's more, bowel cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, especially when it's caught early, and screening helps us to do exactly that.
"That is why the Scottish Government is supporting wider use of this test and if it demonstrates that people are willing to engage with scope screening it could see the test offered more widely as part of our screening programme.''