We know that the earlier a cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat, which is why, through the £30 million detect cancer early programme, we have introduced a HEAT—health improvement, efficiency and governance, access and treatment—target to increase the proportion of Scots who are diagnosed in the earliest stages of cancer by 25 per cent, initially focusing on breast, lung and colorectal cancers.
To support the programme, we launched the detect bowel cancer early social marketing campaign in February 2013, which highlighted the national bowel screening programme. That activity was backed by extensive public relations, field and partnership activity. In addition, we have introduced a new two-year primary care initiative to facilitate informed uptake of the national bowel screening programme at general practitioner practice level. Healthcare Improvement Scotland is undertaking a refresh of the Scottish referral guidelines for suspected cancer.
In total, 1.95 million people in Scotland have so far taken up the screening programme since it was introduced in 2007. Of those, 896,724 males have participated in the programme, which has resulted in diagnosis of some 1,692 bowel cancers in men. That is an uptake of almost 52 per cent. It is an important element of the detect bowel cancer early programme that we continue to increase the number of men who participate in the screening programme because, in doing so, we can diagnose bowel cancer at a much earlier stage.