Cancer screen could help nine in 10 patients survive

Nine out of 10 patients will survive early stage bowel cancer if it is picked up early, according to latest figures.

The findings suggest that GPs should highlight to patients the importance of taking part in bowel cancer screening when invited.

The figures are the first to be based on national statistics and are published by the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) and the Northern and Yorkshire Cancer Registry and Information Service (NYCRIS).

The NCIN looked at every case of bowel cancer diagnosed in England between 1996 and 2006 and the percentage who survived for at least five years.

Professor David Forman, director of NYCRIS and information lead for the NCIN, said: 'It is really encouraging that more people with bowel cancer will now be successfully treated, if the disease is caught at the earliest stage.

'But overall, only half of people with bowel cancer survive, so this shows how crucial it is that the disease is spotted early.

'More than 80 per cent of bowel cancer cases occur in over-60s. Bowel cancer screening will be available across England for people in this age group by December 2009, and it can pick up changes that could be the earliest sign of cancer,' Professor Forman added.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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