PEOPLE aged over 60 are being urged to complete a potentially lifesaving bowel screening test, after figures revealed low uptake rates and variations across Wales.

Uptake of the test - kits are sent every two years to 60-74 year-olds - is below 60 per cent throughout Wales.

Monmouthshire has the highest uptake rate in Wales for 2015/16, at 58.6 per cent, while Wrexham has the lowest, at 49.7 per cent.

But three parts of Gwent are among the bottom six in Wales in terms of uptake - Torfaen (53 per cent), Newport (52.4 per cent) and Blaenau Gwent (51.2 per cent).

The charity Bowel Cancer UK warns that based on current figures, in April alone in Wales, around 190 people will be diagnosed with bowel cancer and 82 people will die of the disease.

However, it is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early, and the charity is encouraging people to take part in the screening programme as part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month this month.

The Bowel Screening Wales programme is the scheme through which testing is managed in Wales, and the aim is to detect the disease at an early stage in people with no symptoms, when it is easier to treat and a greater chance of survival.

Everyone aged 60-74 and registered with a GP receives a test in the post every two years, to carry out in private at home. Next year, the current screening test will be replaced in Wales with a simpler and more accurate one, called FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test).

The aim behind its introduction is to detect more cancers and pre-cancerous polyps, and to increase screening uptake.

“Bowel cancer screening saves lives. It’s quite simple,” said Bowel Cancer UK chief executive Deborah Alsina.

“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.”

For more information on bowel cancer visit