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Geographic bowel cancer variations revealed

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People living in certain parts of the UK are three times more likely to die from bowel cancer, research suggested today.

The Beating Bowel Cancer charity has launched an interactive map where internet users can put in their postcode to see how their area fares.

The worst in the UK is Glasgow, with 31 people per 100,000 dying per year from the disease, while the best is Rossendale, Lancashire, where there are nine deaths per the same number of people.

Reasons for the discrepancy could include low uptake of screening and a lack of awareness of symptoms, the charity said.

Charity chief executive Mark Flannagan said: “Too many people are dying from bowel cancer, no matter where they live. Deaths from bowel cancer could, and should, be much less common. Early diagnosis is key so today we are calling on people to take responsibility for their bowel cancer risk.

“People can give themselves a life-saving chance by being aware of bowel cancer symptoms and taking part in bowel cancer screening when it is offered to them.”

He called the regional figures “intriguing”, and said that more must be done to improve survival rates.

“It will be extremely important for local NHS organisations to examine information for their own areas and use it to inform potential changes in delivery of services. It is clear there is more work to be done and it is more important than ever that the measures outlined in the Cancer Reform Strategy are implemented locally,” Mr Flannagan said.

Possible symptoms of bowel cancer include bleeding, abdominal pain and lumps in the belly. To access the map visit http://bowelcancermap.org.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Bowel cancer is one of the biggest cancer killers in England and we know one of the main reasons is because too many people are diagnosed late.

“That is why we trialled a campaign earlier this year, to raise awareness of the key signs and symptoms and to encourage people with them to visit their GP.

“We are also investing £60m over the next four years to fund flexible sigmoidoscopy - a new screening technique for people around 55 - which will help save 3,000 lives every year.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Seems interesting ,
    any figueres for 2012?

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