If bowel cancer is caught in its early stages the survival rate is around nine in 10, research shows.
Experts from the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) and the Northern and Yorkshire Cancer Registry and Information Service say the rise in the number of people successfully battling the disease is down in part to improvements in surgical techniques.
Yet only 13% of bowel cancer cases are diagnosed in the early stages, so anyone with suspected symptoms must get them checked out as soon as possible, they warn.
Studying cases of bowel cancer diagnosed in England between 1996 and 2006, there were 308,734 cases, of which 26,727 were diagnosed in the early stages. Of this latter group, 93% were still alive five years later.
The Bowel Cancer Screening Programme will be completely rolled out across England by the end of this year, with people receiving home-testing kits.
Ian Beaumont, director of communications at Bowel Cancer UK, said: “We must deliver health messages appropriately, help to maximise early diagnosis and save many more lives from bowel cancer.”
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