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Early diagnosis key to bowel cancer

New data suggest 90% of people diagnosed with bowel cancer in its early stages will survive, but only 13% of such cases are diagnosed.

According to the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) and the Northern and Yorkshire Cancer Registry and Information Service (NYCRIS), improved surgical techniques are helping people survive the cancer, but they warn this is only effective if the cancer is caught early on.

The NCIN analysed every cases of bowel cancer diagnosed in England between 1996 and 2006 and the number who survived for at least five years.

Of the 308,734 cases of bowel cancer just 26,727 were diagnosed in the early stages, with 93% of them still being alive five years later.

They then compared survival figures for each of the four stages of bowel cancer, known as Dukes A, B, C, and D.

They found for A, the earliest stage of the disease, five-year survival for the entire group was about 50%.

The groups are calling on anyone with suspected symptoms to get checked out as soon as possible to increase their chances of survival.

In a bid to increase testing the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme will be rolled out fully across England by the end of this year, with people receiving home-testing kits.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

National Cancer Intelligence Network