University of Dundee

Bowel cancer screening programme

When working as a senior NHS registrar in the late 1980s, Professor Bob Steele was struck by the high mortality rate of patients with bowel cancer.

He moved to Nottingham where trials of bowel cancer screening were taking place and noticed that patients who had been diagnosed early were living longer after surgery. Since then, Professor Steele, based at the University of Dundee, has been pushing for the introduction of cancer screening programmes to allow early diagnosis of the disease.

He led the implementation of the Scottish Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme, which has become a model for how better screening can improve survival rates. Through his own research he has helped develop more sophisticated screening and cancer detection methods. The impact of the bowel cancer screening programme continues to get stronger.

It was announced in February 2018 that a record number of Scots are now taking part in the screening programme, with the biggest increase among those living in the most deprived areas. Professor Steele’s pioneering work on cancer screening was recognised with a CBE in 2018.

Further reading