The Beating Bowel Cancer charity found that 31 people in Glasgow per 100,000 are dying from the disease, compared to nine deaths for the same number of people in Rossendale, Lancashire, the area of the country least affected.
The charity, which has compiled a map of the UK highlighting the disease’s hotspots, said the discrepancy could be due to a low uptake of screening and a lack of awareness of symptoms.
The charity’s chief executive, Mark Flannagan, said: “Too many people are dying from bowel cancer, no matter where they live.
“Deaths from bowel cancer could, and should, be much less common. Early diagnosis is key so today we are calling on people to take responsibility for their bowel cancer risk.
“People can give themselves a life-saving chance by being aware of bowel cancer symptoms and taking part in bowel cancer screening when it is offered.”
He said that more must be done to improve survival rates. “It will be extremely important for local NHS organisations to examine information for their own areas and use it to inform potential changes in delivery of services.
“It is clear there is more work to be done and it is more important than ever that the measures outlined in the Cancer Reform Strategy are implemented locally.”
Possible symptoms of bowel cancer include bleeding, abdominal pain and lumps in the belly.
Since 2007, the Government has rolled out the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme to detect bowel cancer at an earlier stage and improve survival rates.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “All NHS boards have been participating since 2009 with 53% of the eligible population now taking part.
“We are working closely with health boards to ensure those invited have the information they require to make an informed choice, with Community Pharmacies taking part in a campaign to highlight the importance of screening. Our £30 million Detect Cancer Earlier initiative -- initially focused on breast, lung and bowel cancer -- will raise awareness of the disease and increase diagnostic capacity in NHS Scotland, helping to save more lives each year.”
Dr Linda de Caestecker, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Director of Public Health, stressed the importance of using home screening kits.
She said: “All those aged 50-74 in Greater Glasgow and Clyde are eligible for bowel screening whereby a home-based test kit is sent through their letterbox every two years.
“Sadly not everyone realises how important screening can be. Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, it affects both men and women alike and as we get older, the risk increases with nine out of 10 cases in people over 50. However, when detected early it can be treated effectively and many people can be cured.”
Within Greater Glasgow and Clyde there are 750 to 830 new bowel cancer cases each year and around 350 to 400 deaths.
Dr de Caestecker added: “It is essential that people use the kits and not be embarrassed or afraid to send us samples. 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.”
Meanwhile, a “smart bomb” with the potential to destroy solid cancers could be tested on patients within two years.
The drug is designed to “detonate” and become active after reaching a target tumour.
Scientists believe the compound, known as ICT2588, should be effective against all forms of solid tumour.
Professor Laurence Patterson, who heads the research team at the University of Bradford, said: “What we’ve designed is, effectively, a ‘smart bomb’ that can be targeted directly at any solid tumour to kill it without appearing to harm healthy tissue.”
Talks are now taking place with an unnamed funder to raise the £3 million needed to bring the drug to trial.