Never Too Young
Never Too Young is leading the change for younger bowel cancer patients. The campaign is giving younger patients a voice and changing clinical practice and policy to stop people dying of bowel cancer under 50.
Every year over 2,500 younger people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK. While this is only around six per cent of those diagnosed, this number is slowly increasing. Our research found that younger bowel cancer patients have a very different experience of diagnosis, treatment and care.
What are the issues?
- Delays in diagnosis - younger patients report having to see their GP many times, sometimes more than five times, before being referred for crucial diagnostic tests.
- Access to genetic testing – patients diagnosed with bowel cancer should be tested for Lynch syndrome, a genetic condition that increases the risk of bowel cancer at a younger age. Yet many are still not being tested and access to regular colonoscopy, which can reduce the chance of dying from bowel cancer by 72% in people at high risk, is patchy across the UK. Find out more about our work on Lynch syndrome
- A lack of awareness - many younger people and healthcare professionals are not aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer, and are not aware of bowel cancer as a disease younger people can develop. This has led to delays in seeking help from a GP and delays in being referred for tests.
What are we calling for?
- Improved clinical guidance and practice on bowel cancer in younger people.
- Improved identification of people with genetic conditions and access to regular colonoscopy.
- Improved information for younger people on bowel cancer symptoms.
What have we have we done so far?
Since launching our Never Too Young campaign in 2013, it has positively impacted the lives of younger people affected by bowel cancer in the following ways:
- Helped change GP referral guidelines to include younger people for the first time
- Influenced the introduction of NICE guidelines recommending all bowel cancer patients be tested for Lynch syndrome at the point of their diagnosis
- Produced a guide on 'Younger people with bowel cancer: a guide for the under 50s' to fill the gaps in the information that younger people receive when they are diagnosedy
- Published a symptoms diary in partnership with our supporter, Beth Purvis, to help people track and explain their symptoms to their GP to help speed up diagnosis. This was endorsed by the Royal College of GPs.
- Developed a research and a risk assessment tool that can help GPs better identify bowel cancer in younger patients
- Funded a number of landmark research studies focusing on bowel cancer in younger people.
How can you get involved?
- Become a campaign supporter and help lead change for younger people.