Survival rates from bowel cancer could be improved if more people over 60 took up the offer of screening, according to the authors of the latest national bowel cancer audit.
They called for efforts to raise awareness of the national bowel screening programme, to help detect more cancers at an earlier, more easily treatable stage.
It comes after Government advisors on the Cancer Research Taskforce called for NHS England to incentivise GPs to ‘take responsibility for driving increased uptake’ of bowel cancer screening, aimed at boosting average uptake from current levels of around 60% to 75% by 2020.
The audit showed that survival rates after surgery for colorectal cancer have improved, with 96% of patients alive at 90 days after major surgery to remove their cancer in 2013-14, compared with 94% four years earlier.
However, two-year survival stayed the same at around 67% over the period 2009-10 to 2011-2012, and the report highlights that only a fifth of people with bowel cancer in the age group eligible for screening – 60-74 years – had their cancer detected through screening.
Lead author of the audit Mr James Hill, consultant colorectal surgeon at Manchester Royal Infirmary, said ‘patients whose cancer is diagnosed early are more likely to respond to curative treatment than those who are admitted to hospital as an emergency’ and that ‘this is why it is so important that we raise awareness of the national Bowel Cancer Screening Programme’.