GPs in Wales are being encouraged to take steps to improve bowel cancer awareness alongside the launch of a national campaign.
In promotional material aimed at GPs, Cancer Research UK point to several tried and tested ways in which practices can help boost uptake of screening, which in some deprived areas of Wales is as low as 38%.
It comes as practices in Wales will, for the first time, receive electronic alerts on their computer systems for patients who have been invited to take part but have not responded within six weeks.
Screening uptake is much more likely to increase with the help of GPs, the charity says pointing to evidence that a personalised letter from the practice endorsing the programme can increase the rate of patients sending back samples by 6%.
And in South Wales, practices increased uptake by between 5% and 17% by taking a tailored approach and using a combination of letters, flags on the system, chance conversations with patients and telephone calls.
The campaign being run with Public Health Wales will also include TV and newspaper adverts aimed at the public, and has been set up to try a low uptake rate in Wales of 54%.
Dr Amir Ghanghro, a GP based at St David’s Court Surgery in Canton and who is helping to promote the campaign, said: ‘I support bowel cancer screening because it can help with the early detection of cancer when it’s easier to treat successfully – which ultimately, could save more lives.’
He added: ‘I encourage my patients to complete their bowel screening test when it arrives through the post and ask them to read the leaflet sent with their test kit, to help them decide whether to take part because bowel cancer screening is a personal choice.’