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One in ten bowel cancer cases 'lead to death in 30 days'

Nearly one in ten bowel cancer patients die within a month of being diagnosed, a study suggests.

Research by the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) shows over half of bowel cancer sufferers dying within 30 days were over 80 years old.

Furthermore, 60% of such patients received their diagnosis following an emergency admission to hospital.

Researchers from the University of Leeds and the Hull York Medical School partnered the Northern and Yorkshire Cancer Registry and Information Service (NYCRIS), to analyse the data of all bowel cancer patients diagnosed in England between 2006 and 2008.

During the three-year period, 91,980 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer and around 9,000 died within a month of being diagnosed.

“This new analysis shows just how important it is to spot the early signs of cancer,” said Mick Peake, Chief Clinician at the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN).

“It suggests that the public, especially the elderly, may not be aware of the diseases' warning signs or they don't want to bother their doctor with possible symptoms and so are being diagnosed at a late stage in the course of their illness.

“Increasing awareness of the symptoms of the disease and diagnosing patients at an early stage is vital if we want to improve survival from this disease.”

Mike Hobday, Director of Policy and Research at Macmillan Cancer Support, said the proportion of people dying within a month of being diagnosed with bowel cancer is “shockingly high”.

He added early diagnosis of the disease will give a person a 90% chance of a minimum of five years beyond diagnosed. Late diagnosis reduces this chance to one in ten. 

Question: Why do you think their is a high proportion of elderly people receiving late diagnosis of bowel cancer?