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Death rates from bowel cancer vary by postcode

Charity releases figures which show huge variation

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 12 September 2011

Bowel cancer death rates vary significantly depending on where you live.

Figures issued today by the charity Beating Bowel Cancer reveal that there is a three-fold variation in bowel cancer death rates between the best and worst performing areas across the UK.

However, even the lowest death rates are considered too high as bowel cancer continues to be the UK’s second biggest cancer killer.

Glasgow has the UK’s highest bowel cancer death rate, with 31 people per 100,000 dying from the disease every year. The lowest can be found in Rossendale, Lancashire where this figure drops to nine deaths from bowel cancer per 100,000 population. The average death rate from bowel cancer across the UK is 17.6 per 100,000.

Whilst the causes of these variations are not clear, factors such as low participation in bowel cancer screening, poor awareness of bowel cancer symptoms and unhealthy diets and lifestyles, all play a part.

Mark Flannagan, Chief Executive of Beating Bowel Cancer said: “Too many people are dying from bowel cancer, no matter where they live. Deaths from bowel cancer could, and should, be much less common. Early diagnosis is key, so today we are calling on people to take responsibility for their bowel cancer risk. People can give themselves a life-saving chance by being aware of bowel cancer symptoms and taking part in bowel cancer screening when it is offered to them.”

To help people assess their risk the charity has launched a ‘Bowel Cancer Map’ enabling participants to enter their postcode to find out the bowel cancer figures in their area. The map then provides links to more information about bowel cancer and how to reduce the risk.

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