End the Bowel Cancer Screening Lottery

End the Bowel Cancer Screening Lottery

Bowel cancer, when detected in its initial phase results in almost 100% survival rate. Diagnosed in Stage 4, the survival rate can drop as low as 7%. This is why bowel cancer screening is so important. April is Bowel Cancer Awareness month so take a few minutes to read about how you can get screened and reduce your risk.

Are you at risk?

Essentially anyone is at risk of developing bowel cancer. However, risk increases as age increases, particularly past 50 years old.

The charity, Beating Bowel Cancer, has been rigorously campaigning to lower the screening age, from 60 years old to 50 years old, meaning an additional 8 million people would be offered a test for bowel cancer.

This alone would mean 4,000 bowel cancer patients could have their cancer detected at an earlier stage of development, where treatment is generally more successful. 

If you are diagnosed with bowel cancer at what is called Stage 1, there is an average 97% survival rate.

Graph – Cancer Research UK

At Stage 4, the chances of survival drop significantly as treatment is less successful.

Screening is essential to detect bowel cancer

Over 40,000 people between age 50 and 60 will be diagnosed with bowel cancer over the next 10 years. 

What stage they are diagnosed will largely depend on being screened, as typically referrals made from a GP, are when the cancer has already reached a later stage of development.

People are facing a diagnosis lottery at the moment.

Are you aged under 60? As screening isn’t available on the NHS for under 60’s, unless specifically referred by a GP, it is down to you to take measures to protect yourself. Consider a screening test with a private gastroenterologist for your peace of mind.

Are you aged over 60? If you are over 60, the critical factor is to take action and complete the screening test. In some areas in the UK, only one third of people invited for a test, actually complete it.

Symptoms: bowel cancer

Symptoms of bowel cancer can include:

  • Change in bowel habit
  • Loose bowel movements or diarrhoea
  • Passing blood
  • Abdominal pain
  • A low blood count or anaemia
  • Shortness of breath or excessive tiredness, linked to anaemia
  • A history of colon polyps
  • A family history of bowel cancer

However, bowel cancer can also give no symptoms at all.

It is only from conducting the colonoscopy test, which is performed by a gastroenterologist, that the cancer can be detected and diagnosed properly.

Bowel cancer is the 2nd biggest cancer killer in UK

Bowel cancer is the 4th most common cancer, and the 2nd biggest cancer killer, in the UK.

Read more bowel cancer Facts from Beating Bowel Cancer.

Raising awareness and understanding the key fact around this disease, is essential to ensure that more people can give bowel cancer screening the importance it deserves and ultimately more lives can be saved.


Important information