A PIONEERING scheme to provide bowel cancer home-testing kits to the over 60s in England must be extended to Wales, campaigners said last night.
The Department of Health this week announced that everyone over 60 in England will be sent a kit, in a bid to identify cases of the disease earlier.
Bowel cancer is the second largest cause of cancer death in the UK.
But because of devolution only people in England will take advantage of the scheme and there are no plans for at-home self-testing in Wales.
Glyn Davies, a Conservative AM for Mid and West Wales, who underwent surgery to remove a cancerous colorectal tumour in December 2002, has called on Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons to introduce the scheme in Wales.
He also wants to see everyone over 50 with a family history of the disease in Wales also offered the tests.
He said, "Without early diagnosis of my own colorectal cancer I would not be alive today.
"Key to my recovery was removing the affected part from my body before the cancer had spread to my liver and other organs.
"Sadly, every year 16,000 people in the UK are not so lucky and are killed by the disease.
"Home-testing kits are a brilliant idea and I fully support the decision to offer these kits to the over 60s in England. The scheme should be extended to Wales.
"I also believe that we should go one step further and extend the offer of a Bowel Cancer Home-Testing Kit to everyone over 50 where there is a family history of colorectal or bowel cancer.
"I much prefer being alive to the alternative and I want to give this much preferred option to as many other people as possible."
Under the English scheme, by 2009, everyone aged 60 to 69 will be asked to self-test for bowel cancer every two years - it is hoped such screening will cut the death rate by 15%.
A Welsh Assembly Government spokeswoman said, "The Cancer Services Coordinating Group (CSCG) has recently submitted its draft Bowel Cancer Framework to the Welsh Assembly Government for consideration.
"This draft framework contains advice on all aspects of bowel cancer, including prevention, symptom awareness, screening, diagnosis and treatment.
"After initial consideration by officials it will be issued for consultation to the NHS.
"The Assembly Government is aware of the Department of Health's announcement to extend its pilot scheme for bowel cancer screening nationwide.
"In Wales, any decisions taken to screen nationally for bowel cancer will be taken in the light of recommendations from the National Screening Committee."