THE bowel cancer death rate has fallen by 30 per cent in the last 20 years, according to new figures from Cancer Research UK.
Bowel cancer was responsible for 26 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015 compared to 38 per 100,000 people in 1995. Taking in account changing population figures the fall equates to around 1,800 fewer deaths per year compared to 20 years ago.
Cancer Research UK experts believe that better treatments lie behind the drop in deaths, along with improved public awareness and the bowel screening programme.
Around 41,300 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2014 of whom 22,844 were men and 18,421 women. Most patients are aged 50 or over when diagnosed.
Latest figures show that 8,613 men and 7,152 women died from bowel cancer in 2015. It is still the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for 10 per cent of all cancer deaths.
Professor Matt Seymour, Cancer Research UK’s bowel cancer expert based at the University of Leeds, said: “Early diagnosis is critical for bowel cancer survival. In my opinion GPs and patients are becoming more aware of bowel cancer symptoms and acting more quickly than in the past.
“The national screening programme, introduced in 2006, means some cancers can be cured before they have caused any symptoms at all. And in our hospitals, better standards of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, imaging and pathology are all improving patients' chance of cure.”