BOWEL cancer screening rates in Gwent vary dramatically, with Newport and Blaenau Gwent having among the lowest rates in Wales, and Monmouthshire the highest.

The most recent figures show, in the financial year 2017-2018, 53.2 per cent of those offered screening for bowel cancer in Newport and 52 per cent in Blaenau Gwent carried out the tests.

These represent the fifth and second lowest in Wales respectively, with the Welsh average 55 per cent over the same period.

But just over the border in Monmouthshire 61 per cent carried out screening - the highest rate in Wales.


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The rate in Torfaen was slightly below the national average at 54.5 per cent, while Caerphilly was above it at 56.7 per cent.

The lowest rate in the whole of Wales was in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, with 51.3 per cent.

Newport West AM Jayne Bryant, who is the Welsh Assembly's Bowel Cancer UK champion, raised the issue in the Senedd last week.

Addressing health secretary Vaughan Gething, the Labour AM said: "Worryingly, Newport has one of the lowest rates of all cancer screening participation in Wales.

"Nationally across Wales, the uptake of bowel screening last year was only 55 per cent.

"Improving the uptake of these free and potentially lifesaving screening programmes is vital."

She asked Mr Gething what work is being carried out to increase awareness of the new faecal immunochemical test (FIT), which is being introduced across Wales this year, and expected to be fully in place by next month, and encourage take-up of screening tests.

Replying, Mr Gething said screening for bowel cancer and other forms of the disease was "a public health priority".

"When people receive their invite to undertake the test, that's part of the direct contact with people, and it's also part of our broader message about the fact that screening really does save lives," he said.

Mr Gething added figures for the take-up of the new test would be reviewed on a regular basis.

Bowel cancer screening is offered to all residents in Wales aged between 60 and 74, with invitations sent every two years by Public Health Wales.

The most recent statistics show as of the start of October 2018 bowel cancer screening rates across Wales as a whole were 53.4 per cent - up from 51.6 per cent a year earlier.

A Public Health Wales spokeswoman said: "Over the past year, the Bowel Screening Wales team has undertaken a number of initiatives in a drive to increase screening uptake.

"These include a large-scale public awareness campaign and parallel GP engagement campaign run in collaboration with Cancer Research UK, and the introduction of a new system which offers GP practices the option to be informed about their non-responders."

The disease is Wales’ fourth most common cancer. More than 2,200 people are diagnosed every year, and more than 900 people a year die of it, making bowel cancer Wales’ second biggest cancer killer. Yet it is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.

For more information on support with bowel cancer visit