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Bowel cancer detected early

23rd March 2011

Cancer Research UK says that more cases of bowel cancer are being detected sooner since a screening programme was introduced in England.

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While bowel cancer rates have jumped by 12% for people in their 60s, the charity says this suggests more tumours are being detected.

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK but evidence shows that if a tumour is found early, then 90% of patients survive for five years.

The NHS bowel cancer screening programme was introduced across England in 2006 for people in their 60s to collect samples in a detection kit that can be sent to a laboratory to check for tell-tale traces of blood.

At the time, the rate of bowel cancer cases was 143.5 per 100,000 people aged 60-69 but that rose to 161.5 per 100,000 in 2008.

Catherine Thomson, head of statistics at Cancer Research UK, said: “These figures are evidence that the bowel cancer screening programme is helping to find cases of bowel cancer sooner.

“Without the screening programme it's likely that many of these cancers would not have been found for another few years, by which time they would be harder to treat.”

Mark Flannagan, chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer said: “These latest figures are an indication that bowel screening is working.”

The Department of Health said over the next four years, there are plans to invest £60m in a new bowel cancer screening technique called flexible sigmoidoscopy to detect cancer and the early signs of cancer for people aged around 55.

 

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