Beating bowel cancer together

Half of all cancer patients diagnosed late

About half of all cancer patients in England failed to be diagnosed with cancer in its early stages, according to figures by Public Health England.

Some 115,000 people in England were diagnosed with late-stage cancer in 2017, significantly reducing their chances of survival and leaving patients with fewer treatment options.

Of those, some 67,000 were diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, the most advanced stage. The figure could even be larger as for 19 per cent of patients there is no record of what stage their cancer was diagnosed.

Dr Lisa Wilde, Director of Research and External Affairs at Bowel Cancer UK, says: “We have been ringing the alarm bell for many years about the severe shortage of NHS workforce that is contributing to thousands of bowel cancer patients being diagnosed at a late stage.

“Bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early and nearly everyone survives if diagnosed at the earliest stage, however this drops significantly as the disease develops.

“For far too long NHS services have been facing increasing demand, leading to patients waiting for crucial tests that can diagnose bowel cancer. The Government must finally get to grips with tackling this problem, particularly as demand will increase with the roll out of the new screening test, the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT), which has proven to increase participation in screening meaning that more patients are being referred for tests.

“That’s why we’re calling for a fully funded action plan to help end the capacity crisis. The NHS Improvement’s People Plan must urgently address how endoscopy and pathology workforce can be increased and staff trained, so we can meet the Government’s pledge to save more lives by diagnosing people earlier.”


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