As an MP I get invited to many Receptions which are held on a daily basis in the Palace of Westminster. I recently attended the Beating Bowel Cancer Reception at the request of a constituent who was attending with his daughter who was in her late 30’s. My constituent’s daughter had been declared free of the disease last year but, sadly, is now facing a new battle.
The facts about bowel cancer are startling. Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer and every half an hour someone dies of the disease. Furthermore, someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer every 15 minutes.
Statistics show that you are more likely to be diagnosed at Stage 1 through screening rather than through a referral via a GP or A&E unit. Being diagnosed with bowel cancer at an early stage (Stage 1) offers a 97% survival rate, as opposed to 7% if diagnosed at a late stage (Stage 4).Yet in England, screening starts at 60, despite benefits in terms or both survival rates and treatment costs from screening at 50.
The statistics show that earlier screening can help save lives and that is why I have been pleased to endorse Beating Bowel Cancer’s campaign. I have written to the Public Health Minister, Nicola Blackwood MP, urging the Government to lower the screening age to 50.
Sadly, cancer is an all too common part of our lives these days. 1 in 2 of us are likely to get cancer in our lifetimes and with an increasing population it is estimated that 40,000 people in their 50s will be diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next decade.
The figures are stark and depressing, but so is the reality.
Thankfully, survival rates for cancer have doubled in the last 40 years and that is why events like World Cancer Day, which was held on the 4th February, are so important to unite in the fight against cancer.
For more information about Beating Bower Cancer visit beatingbowelcancer.org.