LESS than half of the people in Glasgow eligible for screening to prevent a deadly cancer take up the test, it has been revealed.

A new campaign to highlight the dangers of bowel cancer has been launched and Glaswegian men are being targeted in a bid to save lives.

As many as 400 people die in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area each year from the disease, with the same number again surviving.

Health bosses want to replicate the success of previous campaigns against breast cancer .

Officials report that only 49.7% of the 365,000 people in the health board area take up the offer of a bowel cancer screening test, despite the fact that screening is estimated to prevent 150 deaths a year.

Statistics from the NHS show more people are surviving the cancer, up from 38% to 55% over the last 20 years.

Health Secretary Alex Neil launched the new campaign today.

He said: "These statistics are encouraging and show that today people are far more likely to survive bowel cancer than they were 30 years ago

"However, there are still far too many people being diagnosed with bowel cancer at the later stages.

"That is why we are launching our bowel cancer campaign, to raise awareness of the screening programme.

"From April 2013, those over the age of 74 will be able to request a screening kit through the Scottish bowel screening helpline every two years."

Men are less likely to take part in the screening programme, leaving them open to late detection, reducing their chances of survival.

Today, people are 50% more likely to survive bowel cancer compared to 30 years ago, but early detection is key.

Dr Emilia Crighton, Public Health Consultant with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: "Men in particular in are being targeted because we know that they are less likely to take part in screening.

"With bowel cancer most people experience no symptoms, and some people ignore warning signs, such as a change of bowel habits lasting more than six months.

"The best way to find out if you have bowel cancer is by taking the screening test – it can save lives.

"The vast majority of results are perfectly normal. For the minority of people who do have positive results, screening will mean early detection, quicker treatment and a greater chance of a cure."

stewart.paterson@ eveningtimes.co.uk