Beating bowel cancer together

Campaign victories

Together with bowel cancer patients, clinicians and thousands of supporters we’re achieving real change. By tweeting, signing an e-petition, writings emails and letters, or meeting with your local MP, you've helped us to accomplish great things for people affected by bowel cancer. Here are just some success stories.

Screening from 50

We campaigned strongly for the bowel cancer screening age to be lowered to 50, in line with Scotland and the rest of the world. In April 2018, we supported Lauren Backler to hand in her petition signed by half a million people to the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt MP, calling for this change. Screening is the best way to diagnose bowel cancer early, when it is treatable and curable.

Success: We did it! Thanks to our amazing campaigners, it was announced that the screening age in England and Wales will be lowered from 60 to 50. Every year around 4,500 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer aged 50-59 and just over 1,200 die from the disease in this age group. The introduction of screening from 50 will help to save so many lives.

Success: NHS England’s Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, reaffirms commitments made to lower the bowel cancer screening age from 60 to 50 in England. To make this a reality, we are now calling for a fully funded long-term workforce plan to tackle the capacity crisis in endoscopy services. 

Tackling the endoscopy crisis in Scotland

In May 2018, we highlighted that nearly 5,000 people in Scotland are waiting more than six weeks for tests that can diagnose bowel cancer, with two thirds of Scottish Health Boards in breach of the waiting time target. We called for a national endoscopy action plan and leadership to tackle the growing endoscopy crisis in Scotland. Our campaign supporters joined us by tweeting at the then Health Secretary, Shona Robison MSP, to make sure there are enough NHS staff to carry out this life-saving test, so patients aren’t kept waiting.

Success: Just a month after sharing these shocking waiting times statistics, the Health Secretary announced they would develop a National Endoscopy Action Plan, with total funding of £14 million, to ensure that those who have been waiting longer than six weeks are seen as a matter of urgency. Read more about it here.

Success: In March 2019, the Scottish Government published their much anticipated Endoscopy Action Plan to tackle the growing crisis in endoscopy services. We look forward to working with them to ensure that every bowel cancer patient in Scotland has the best opportunity for an early diagnosis. Find out more

Right Test, Right Time

Scotland is the only UK nation to introduce the more accurate faecal immunochemical test (FIT) into its screening programme. FIT is vital for improving the chance of an early diagnosis as it can detect more early stage cancers than the current screening test. This test must be introduced across the UK.

Success: The new screening test (FIT) has started being rolled out in Wales from the end of January 2019 to the current eligible population (60 – 74 year olds), with the intention to have the test fully implemented by June 2019. This makes Wales the second country, after Scotland, to roll out the more accurate screening test to its population. In England, FIT is now due to be rolled out from April 2019.

Never Too Young

We know that younger bowel cancer patients have a very different experience of diagnosis, treatment and care. Our campaign is giving younger patients a voice, as well as changing clinical practice and policy to help stop people under 50 dying of bowel cancer.

Success: Together we changed the guidance given to GPs on referring patients to include vital information on identifying young people with symptoms that could be caused by cancer for the first time. This will help save lives.

Time to Test for Lynch syndrome

We want everyone diagnosed with bowel cancer tested for Lynch syndrome, a genetic condition that dramatically increases the life-time risk of bowel cancer. We launched our Time to Test campaign calling for this change across the UK. 

Success: Thanks to the backing of our supporters and clinicians, we now have new guidance that recommends everyone diagnosed with bowel cancer is tested for Lynch syndrome at the time of diagnosis. We’re working tirelessly to make sure testing is taking place in every hospital.

Success: After years of campaigning, we’re thrilled that Wales have committed to a national system of testing all bowel cancer patients for Lynch syndrome, in line with clinical guidelines – the first in the UK to commit to this. This comes a year after we published our Time to Test report, which found that in Wales no health boards were testing. It’s time to test across the UK – sign our petition to make this a reality.

Putting bowel cancer on the political agenda

Following the 2017 General Election, hundreds of our campaigners contacted their MP to ask if they would become a bowel cancer champion to help drive bowel cancer up the political agenda.

Ahead of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in 2019, we’re asking campaigners in Scotland and Wales to ask their MSPs and AMs to become a bowel cancer champion so we can make real change happen both nationally and locally.

Success: Thanks to our amazing campaigners, we now have over 70 bowel cancer champions in Parliament helping us push for life-saving changes in the way we diagnose and treat bowel cancer. Find out if your politcal representative is a Bowel Cancer Champion.


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