A DOCTOR is to travel to Saudi Arabia and the USA to study ways of increasing bowel cancer screening among ethnic minority groups.

Fareed Iqbal, a surgical doctor from Nelson, has been awarded £6,500 from the Churchill Travelling Fellowship to fund the trip.

Mr Iqbal, 32, said he was ‘passionate’ about screening for bowel cancer and wanted to use the trip to look at ways of getting more members of the Muslim community to come forward.

He said: “Bowel cancer is one of the most treatable cancers, but that is dependent on it being caught early.

“Screening is available for people over the age of 55, but data shows that ethnic minorities are the least likely to use it. We don’t know why, we just know it happens.”

Born and raised in Nelson, Mr Iqbal is currently based at St Mark’s Hospital in London as a colorectal surgeon.

He said: “We need to find a way to engage with the Muslim community and understand how we can help them come forward for screening.

“It is an area I am passionate about and it has dictated my career somewhat.

“I will be going to Saudi Arabia for two weeks to look at the religion and to speak to people, to try to find if there is anything in the religion that we could use as a message, like the Quran, telling people to look after their health.

“We want to find a faith-based approach to the screening.

“I will then be spending four weeks in the US looking at their approach to the problem, and how they have improved screening rates in the African-American population.”

Mr Iqbal is hoping to go to Saudi Arabia and the USA in June and July this year.

“I am incredibly grateful to the Churchill Travelling Fellowship for recognising this problem and backing me,” he said.