Majority of bowel cancer cases diagnosed too late

AS few as one in three bowel cancer patients in some parts of England are diagnosed early, according to new figures.

Diagnosis rates vary widely across the NHS in England. The best performing clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) diagnose 63 per cent of patients early compared to just 30 per cent in the worst.

The figures from charity Beating Bowel Cancer show the majority of patients are being diagnosed too late. They say 3,200 lives could be saved if every NHS region in England performed as well as the best. An estimated £34 million could also be diverted to other bowel cancer services and treatments.

The charity’s chief executive Mark Flannagan called for improved screening and renewed efforts to raise awareness of signs and symptoms. He is also campaigning for increased investment to help GPs investigate and refer patients.

Survival rates for those diagnosed with stage one bowel cancer are 97 per cent but this drops to just seven per cent once the disease becomes more advanced.

Mr Flannagan said: "If every patient with bowel cancer was diagnosed early (at stage one or two) the NHS could avert treatment costs of over £103 million. To put this in context, the money saved could pay for the entire bowel cancer screening programme and 742 cancer nurse specialists per year."

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