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Bowel cancer patients still diagnosed too late

Wide variation found in diagnostic times

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The majority of bowel cancer patients are diagnosed too late.

The figures, released today from the charity Beating Bowel Cancer, also show wide variations across England in terms of early diagnosis - with the best performing Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) diagnosing 63% of patients early, compared with only 30% in the worst.

According to the report, if every NHS region in England performed as well as the best at diagnosing bowel cancer early (stages 1 and 2), 3,200 lives could be saved and £34 million could be diverted to other bowel cancer services and treatments.

Chief Executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, Mark Flannagan, said “It’s unacceptable that there are CCGs in England that diagnose less than 1 in 3 patients at an early stage. If they all performed as well as the best, thousands of lives could be saved and millions of pounds could be freed up to be used for other bowel cancer treatments, which patients are frequently told are unaffordable.

“This will require further improvements in screening, renewed efforts to raise awareness of signs and symptoms, and investment to support improvements in GP performance in investigating and referring patients appropriately.”

Those diagnosed with stage 1 bowel cancer have a 97% chance of survival, compared to just 7% when the cancer is more advanced. However, not only does early diagnosis provide patients with a much better chance of survival, it also costs the NHS far less. This is due to the fact that treatment for the earlier stages of cancer is often less intensive and invasive than treatment for more advanced disease.”

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