Beating bowel cancer together

Bowel cancer survival in the UK improving, but lagging behind other countries

Cancer survival rates in the UK have improved markedly over recent decades but still lag behind those of comparable countries, major research published in The Lancet has shown.

The study looked at one-year and five-year survival of cancer patients in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and the UK between 1995 and 2014. It found that while the chances of surviving cancer have improved in the UK, they have not caught up with other countries.

Five-year survival rates for rectal and bowel cancer in the UK improved the most since 1995, and pancreatic cancer the least. For bowel cancer, survival increased from 47% for five years in 1995-99 to 59% in 2010-14. Advances in treatment and surgery are thought to be behind the UK's progress.

In 2017, we made a commitment of investing half a million pounds into surgical research for bowel cancer.  Investing in surgical research is crucial to develop more effective and personalised life-saving treatments, standardise surgery and care for patients regardless of where they live and minimise side-effects for everyone who has an operation.

Dr Lisa Wilde, Director of Research and External Affairs says: “It is encouraging to see an improvement in bowel cancer survival in the UK over the last two decades. However the disease remains the UK’s second biggest cancer killer and it’s concerning that we’re still lagging behind a number of other high-income countries.

“With so many lives at stake, it’s clear that more needs to be done to understand how we can bridge this gap. We want to see improvements to the bowel cancer screening programmes across the UK, advancements in personalised treatment and care as well as much needed investment in NHS staff who diagnose and treat bowel cancer patients.”

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