CORONATION Street actor Malcolm Hebden called for older people to take the bowel cancer screening test as he launched the scheme in East Lancashire.

Malcolm, 69, who plays Norris Cole in the soap, was promoting the scheme at the Royal Blackburn Hospital as part of a campaign across Lancashire and Cumbria.

Bowel cancer screening kits are being sent to everyone aged 60 to 69, and those aged 70 or over can request them.

The completed home-testing kits are sent off to the laboratory to test for blood in the stool, and those with an abnormal result will be called for an appointment and further tests.

More than 16,000 people die of bowel cancer in the UK each year, but if it is spotted early, it is one of the most treatable forms of the disease.

Malcolm, who is from Burnley, said: “Being in a funny job like mine, you can sometimes reach people on a human level and I want to do everything I can to encourage people to be screened.

“I’ve had two or three periods of bowel trouble and I just fall into the age range, so it’s essential for me. The great thing is that the kit is very small and simple, and you don’t have to go to the doctors, which is often what puts men off.”

Judith Salaman, screening colonoscopist and consultant at the Royal Blackburn Hospital, said: “There are many other possible causes for blood in the stool, so an abnormal screening result doesn’t mean you definitely have cancer, just that we need to take a closer look.

“I treat patients in Blackburn and Burnley, and in a lot of cases by the time I’m treating someone for cancer it has been there several years before they have felt any symptoms, making it very difficult to treat.”

Clinical director of the screening programme, Dr Mark Hendrickse, added: “Everyone has a one in 20 risk of developing bowel cancer, but if it is caught in the early stages there is a 90 per cent chance we can get rid of that cancer.

“If everyone takes up the screening, we could reduce deaths from bowel cancer by 16 per cent.”

To find out more about the scheme, visit, or call 0800 707 60 60.