Bowel cancer awareness 'needs to be improved'

26 August 2011

A leading cancer pressure group has claimed that awareness of bowel cancer is too low in the UK and needs to change in order to improve survival statistics.

Beating Bowel Cancer, an organisation working to raise awareness of the disease with a view to improving cancer diagnosis rates, speculated that one reason why understanding of it is so low may be due to patient embarrassment.

Mark Flannagan, chief executive of the charity, said: "Bowel cancer is the UK's third most common cancer and the second biggest cancer killer so it should be something that everyone is aware of."

He added that over 90 per cent of bowel cancer patients can be cured if the disease is caught in the early stages - often without the need of chemotherapy treatment. However, the longer people leave a basic check-up, the more the likelihood of needing such cancer treatment increases.

Preliminary findings from the ongoing European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study have revealed that the risk of bowel cancer from 1,300 cases increased by 55 per cent due to high consumption levels of red meat, while fish seemed to reduce this risk by 30 per cent.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

1 Norat, T., et al., "Meat, fish, and colorectal cancer risk: the European Prospective Investigation into cancer and nutrition". Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2005

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