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Warning over bowel cancer detection

20 June 2015 14:12

Young patients could benefit from the tonic of a holiday

Young patients could benefit from the tonic of a holiday

Many young bowel cancer sufferers may be unaware they have the illness, a new poll suggests.

It can take over a year for them to be properly diagnosed, according to Bowel Cancer UK's Never Too Young survey of over 400 patients under 50.

The poll, the biggest one of its type ever taken, found that a fifth of patients did not have their potentially fatal disease spotted for over 12 months.

The same fraction had to visit their family doctor at least five times before eventually being referred to the right specialist.

The research's author said the report underlines a disparity in backing, care and treatment for younger bowel cancer patients.

The study suggests the results are particularly disturbing because quick diagnosis is important to treatment as well as survival rates.

Holiday tonic

No matter how old a bowel cancer patient is, the disease need not be a barrier to enjoying the tonic of a holiday.

Tourists can get cancer travel insurance which covers bowel cancer.

So why the delay in diagnosis?

- the poll highlighted two barriers to early detection. One, GPs often discount bowel cancer due to a person's relatively young age. Two, youngsters are frequently unaware of the disease's symptoms.

- 57% of respondents were unaware of bowel cancer symptoms before their diagnosis

- 27% delayed visiting their family doctor for over three months when they were conscious that they had developed symptoms

Bowel Cancer UK's chief executive, Deborah Alsina, said that the results highlighting delays show that much work is still to be done in the early diagnosis of the disease in young people.

Key stats

- bowel cancer is thought to be the second-most prevalent form of the disease behind lung cancer

- 2,100 under-50s have bowel cancer detected each year in Britain. This figure has risen by almost a quarter over the last 10 years