Almost half those sent free bowel cancer screening kits in the North West are ignoring them, according to Bowel Cancer UK.
On average only 59 per cent of people living in the Western Trust who are sent the bowel cancer screening test for free in the post actually complete it.
Uptake rates for bowel cancer screening are low with variations across the North: Belfast (53%), Southern (57%), Western (59%), Northern (62%) and South Eastern (64%).
In April alone nearly 100 people in the North will be diagnosed with bowel cancer and over 30 people will die of the disease. It’s the country’s second biggest cancer killer. However, bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early.
Niamh McDaid, Senior Health Promotion and Training Officer for Northern Ireland at Bowel Cancer UK, said: “It’s quite simple, bowel cancer screening saves lives. It’s predicted that even using the current test, the screening programme will save over 2,000 lives each year by 2025.
“I would encourage everyone who’s over 60 to take the test, and for those who are younger to encourage their loved ones over 60 to complete it. It could save yours or your loved ones life.”
Bowel Cancer UK, the UK’s leading bowel cancer research charity, is encouraging people living in the region to take part in the screening programme as part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in April.