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Sunday 25th August 2019

Wide variation in bowel cancer death rates

12th September 2011

Data collected by a charity has found that variations in bowel cancer death rates can be three times as high in certain areas of the UK than in other parts of the country.


Beating Bowel Cancer researchers said death rates were lowest in Rossendale in Lancashire, at nine per 100,000 people, but were over three times as high in Glasgow, at 31 per 100,000.

The average death rate across the UK is 17.6 per 100,000 and the cancer is the second most prevalent in the country.

The researchers said their study accounted for the number of older people living in an area as the danger of bowel cancer increased with age.

Mark Flannagan, chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, said that regardless of where people lived, the numbers of people dying from the disease was too high.

"Deaths from bowel cancer could, and should, be much less common. Early diagnosis is key. People can give themselves a life-saving chance by being aware of bowel cancer symptoms and taking part in bowel cancer screening when it is offered to them."

"The figures are intriguing. It will be extremely important for local NHS organisations to examine information for their own areas and use it to inform potential changes in delivery of services." 

Dr Emilia Crichton, who heads the bowel cancer screening programme in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said only half of the 400,000 people offered screening in the first two years of the programme took up the offer.

A Department of Health spokesperson said the NHS was investing £60 million over the next four years in flexible sigmoidoscopy (a new screening technique for the disease).


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