19. September 2011 12:40
The first ever national campaign to raise awareness of bowel cancer will be launched by the Department of Health in January 2012.
‘Be Clear on Cancer’ is part of an £8.5 million package to promote and develop bowel cancer screening and treatment services.
The awareness campaign, which follows successful regional trials, aims to encourage the public to be aware of possible early symptoms of bowel cancer and discuss these with their GP.
Other measures aimed at improving bowel cancer survival rates include:
- extending the screening age to 75
- introducing flexible sigmoidoscopy screening at 55
- promoting laparoscopic colorectal surgery
- training for lower rectal surgery.
Regional pilots for the awareness campaign in the South West and East of England led to a 48% increase in the number of people reporting symptoms to their GPs and a 32% increase in urgent referrals to hospitals.
“No-one likes thinking about cancer, or talking about their poo. But the plain fact is no-one dies of embarrassment,” said Health Minister Paul Burstow. “Early diagnosis makes a huge difference to your chance of survival.”
The new campaign is part of the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative, set up by Cancer Research UK and the DH. Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, commented: “The key reason our cancer survival lags behind the best in the world is that we diagnose the disease late.”
In a joint statement, charities Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer noted: “We know 90% of people will survive if diagnosed at the earliest stage of the disease. The tragedy however is that only 9% are. Worryingly awareness of symptoms and the disease is still way too low. We hope this campaign will help change that.”
The DH is also launching a new regional campaign in October to raise awareness of the early symptoms of lung cancer across the Midlands.