Significant percentage of bowel cancer rapidly fatal

ALMOST 10 per cent of bowel cancer patients die within a month of being diagnosed according to new analysis published by the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN).

The study also found that over half (56 per cent) of patients dying within a month were over 80 years old and 60 per cent were diagnosed following an emergency admission to hospital.

Data from all bowel cancer patients diagnosed in England between 2006 and 2008 was analysed by researchers from the University of Leeds and the Hull York Medical School in collaboration with the Northern and Yorkshire Cancer Registry and Information Service (NYCRIS). A total of 91,980 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer and around 9,000 were found to have died within one month. Some individuals may have died from other diseases but this could not be determined in this analysis.

Eva Morris, a study author from the University of Leeds, said: "Compared to elsewhere in Europe our survival rates are poor and, as this study shows, one of the key reasons is because a large number of patients present with rapidly fatal disease. And, crucially, the report highlights that these people tend to first be seen as an emergency patient in hospital and have advanced disease and can’t be offered treatment that could potentially cure them."

Mick Peake, chief clinician at the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), said: "This new analysis shows just how important it is to spot the early signs of cancer. It suggests that the public, especially the elderly, may not be aware of the diseases’ warning signs or they don’t want to bother their doctor with possible symptoms and so are being diagnosed at a late stage in the course of their illness. Increasing awareness of the symptoms of the disease and diagnosing patients at an early stage is vital if we are to improve survival from the disease."

Bowel screening is offered to men and women from ages 60 to 74 in England with a kit sent out to people every two years. In Scotland men and women aged between 50 and 74 years are sent a FOBt kit every 2 years.

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