People have been urged to attend bowel cancer screenings after researchers found that those who attend appointments have a better chance of survival.
Experts say that those who go to screenings are more likely to be diagnosed at an earlier stage than those who wait until they have symptoms of the disease.
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women, with around 40,000 people diagnosed with the disease each year.
Researchers looked at people aged 60 to 69 who were diagnosed with the disease in the West Midlands between January 2006 and September 2011.
They compared the stage at diagnosis in patients picked up at screening compared to those diagnosed from symptoms.
They found that 18.5% of bowel cancers detected through screening were at the earliest stages compared with 9.4% of cancers diagnosed through symptomatic routes.
Sam Johnson, lead researcher based at the West Midlands Cancer Intelligence Unit, said: “When bowel cancer is diagnosed at an earlier stage, it’s easier to treat, has a lower chance of coming back and better survival rates.
“Our research shows that screening can play an important role in improving bowel cancer survival by picking up cancers at an earlier stage.”
The findings were presented at the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) conference in Birmingham.