Thousands Dying from Bowel Cancer because it is Spotted Too Late
Figures released by Beating Bowel Cancer have shown that thousands of people in England are dying from bowel cancer because the disease isn’t being detected early enough. According to the research, in some parts of the UK less than a third of cases are detected before the cancer spreads to other parts of the body.
The charity says that there are inconsistencies in the diagnosis of bowel cancer across the country, and that if every NHS region did as well as the best performing areas, 3,200 more lives could be saved each year,
“It’s unacceptable that there are CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) in England that diagnose less than one in three patients at an early stage,” says Mark Flanagan, chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer. “If they all performed as well as the best, thousands of lives could be saved and millions of pounds could be freed up to be used for other bowel cancer treatments, which patients are frequently told are unaffordable.
“This will require further improvements in screening, renewed efforts to raise awareness of signs and symptoms, and investments to support improvements in GP performance in investigating and referring patients appropriately.”
Part of the reason bowel cancer is often detected too late is that not enough people come forward for checks. If survival rates are to be improved, it’s important that people know when to get checked by a doctor. There is a 97% chance of survival for those whose bowel cancer is detected at the earliest possible stage, compared to a 7% chance for those who aren’t diagnosed until the disease is at an advanced stage.
A bowel-cancer screening programme for those aged 60-74 was introduced to England in 2006, but the uptake has generally only been around the 60% mark.
“There are a number of reasons why cancer may be diagnosed at an advanced stage; for some cancers, symptoms are often only noticeable once the tumour has already started to spread,” says Nick Ormiston-Smith of Cancer Research UK. “But for many others there are chances for the cancer to be picked up earlier. It’s vital that people are aware of their body and if they notice anything unusual they should visit their GP.”
If you would like to read more about the symptoms of bowel cancer, please follow the link.
If you have been affected by cancer and would like help and advice from Cancer Research UK, you can find out more here.