Londonderry MP Mark Durkan says not enough people in his home town are taking free bowel cancer tests and that people are dying as a result.
“I would therefore urge people in Derry and throughout the North who are sent a bowel screening test to use it,” he said.
“Taking part in bowel cancer screening is the best way to get diagnosed early. If you are over 60, take the test when you receive it in the post.
“If you are younger, tell the people over 60 in your life to take the test. Early diagnosis really can save lives.”
He made the comments this Bowel Cancer Awareness Month during which leading research charity Bowel Cancer UK is also urging people in Londonderry aged 60 to 74 to have a bowel cancer screening test in an attempt to lower death rates from the disease.
Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, affecting both men and women.
Every year over 41,000 people (one every 15 minutes) are diagnosed with bowel cancer and 16,200 people die of the disease.
Mr Durkan, who is vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer at Westminster, said: “I am delighted to support Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and the campaign to improve uptake rates for bowel cancer screening.”
Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said: “I’d like to thank Mark Durkan for supporting our campaign during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to raise participation levels for bowel cancer screening.
“One in 14 men and one in 19 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime but it is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.”
To find out more about bowel cancer and symptoms of the disease visit bowelcanceruk.org.uk