April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in the UK 1 in 15 men and 1 in 18 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime. Nearly everyone survives bowel cancer if diagnosed at the earliest stage.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic causing major disruption to cancer patients across the UK, Buckinghamshire has recently reported an improvement in bowel cancer survival rates with figures currently sitting at an 80.9% chance of surviving for one year following a bowel cancer diagnosis.
This is a welcome improvement on 2017 data, where survival rates were reported as being slightly lower at 80.4%. Even more promising is that these statistics show a stark improvement from the findings reported back in 2003, when records began with a rate of just 74.4%.
The national average survival rate is currently 80.7% with Buckinghamshire ranking as the county with the highest rate, however, figures do vary dramatically from region to region.
Figures from Bowel Cancer UK show Leicester lags behind the national average with those diagnosed and treated for the condition in that part of the East Midlands having a 70% chance of survival after one year. Rates are as high as 88% in certain districts in London, though not across the capital as a whole.
Why do regional differences exist?
The reasons for this wide-ranging variation seems to be very much dependant upon the endoscopy capacity of the NHS in each region, the demand for such services and the investment ploughed into this particular area of public health.
Noted as ‘incredibly concerning’ by leading members of Bowel Cancer UK, the organisation is campaigning for funding to help reduce waiting times for testing. It also wants to see more personnel recruited to ensure that individuals are able to access the medical care they need within a reasonable timescale.
With bowel cancer being highly treatable if caught early, the outlook remains bright for those within certain postcodes. However with the NHS stretched to full capacity and waiting times increasing due to Covid-19 and a significant backlog of people awaiting a diagnosis, it is essential that everyone knows the signs and symptoms of the illness so that medical treatment can be sought quickly.
Bowel cancer has three main persistent symptoms that set it apart from other conditions:
- Blood present in stool
- A continuous change in bowel habits (including more frequent or loose stools)
- Persistent lower abdominal pain, bloating or discomfort
Although there are other conditions that can result in the above symptoms, it is far better to rule out bowel cancer quickly than to let the problem continue as survival rates are very much dependant upon early diagnosis and treatment.
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above, book an appointment with your GP as soon as you can so that you can access the treatment you require regardless of the outcome. Find out more about Bowel Cancer from the NHS website
Live–in care support
Regular trips to the hospital and potentially debilitating treatment can pose a huge disruption to the daily routine, for those who are diagnosed. Living with cancer is also challenging and worrying for the patient’s family and friends. Additional emotional and practical support can make life easier at what is a stressful time. Live in care is one such option and can alleviate some of the pressures and challenges faced by cancer patients and their loved ones.
Caring for a friend or family member can be both rewarding and challenging. Our bespoke cancer care plans can help you know what to expect – from day-to-day caring to looking after your own needs. We are more than happy to visit you and your family at home to discuss your situation and consider the options available to you.
This Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, Bowel cancer UK are campaigning to improve early diagnosis by ensuring people have access to the right test at the right time. How you can get involved?