People are almost 50% more likely to survive bowel cancer compared to 30 years ago, figures show.

The statistics, from ISD Scotland, which provides data about the NHS, have been revealed to coincide with the launch of the Scottish Government's groundbreaking bowel cancer campaign this week.

They show that the five-year survival rate for bowel cancer increased from 38% between 1983 to 1987, to 55% between 2003 and 2007.

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From April, the bowel screening programme will be extended, and those over the age of 74 will be able to self-refer every two years.

Currently, men and women aged 50-74 are invited to participate in screening every two years.

Health Secretary Alex Neil 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, as part of the Detect Cancer Early Programme, we are launching our bowel cancer campaign tomorrow, to raise awareness of the bowel screening programme.

"Participating in the bowel screening programme gives the best chance of detecting bowel cancer early.

"When bowel cancer is detected at an early stage it is treatable and nine out of 10 people beat it.

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