Screen earlier to save lives

Mary Glindon MP for North Tyneside.

Mary Glindon MP for North Tyneside.

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This weekend sees a number of our anti-cancer organisations mark World Cancer Day.

This awareness day aims to encourage earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment for cancer, as well as longer term cures to this most terrible killer.

There are many types of cancer, some of which have been tackled more successfully than others.

One of the cancers that I believe needs more attention is bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer is the country’s second biggest cancer killer.

However, there can be a near total survival rate if it is caught in time. Unfortunately, later diagnosis slashes survival rates to as little as seven per cent.

The respected charity Beating Bowel Cancer recently made a strong case to me, and a number of other MPs, for reducing the bowel cancer screening age.

Variations in the screening age across the UK delay diagnosis for thousands of bowel cancer patients in their 50s.

The screening age in England, Wales and Northern Ireland should be lowered from 60 to 50, as it is in Scotland.

One young woman told us that her mother would probably be alive if she had lived in Scotland, and she spoke movingly about how more of those people over 50 will also lose their lives unnecessarily each year unless the screening age is reduced.

In addition, the charity makes the point that our ageing population also means a dramatic increase in the number of people that could be affected by cancer without this modest change in policy.

To find out more about bowel cancer please visit the charity’s website at www.beatingbowelcancer.org

Alternatively, you can call its Nurse Helpline on 020 8973 0011.