Bowel cancer patients get help too late

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MANY bowel cancer patients do not get medical help until it is too late, figures show.

One in five is admitted as 
an emergency, presenting with severe and potentially life-threatening conditions, according to the National Bowel Cancer Audit.

Of 29,000 bowel cancer patients diagnosed in England and Wales between 2010 and 2011, 21.2 per cent were admitted as an emergency.

Nearly a third of these were not suitable for surgical intervention, meaning that their cancer was already too advanced to be operated on, according to the data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Of those who were operated on, 11.9 per cent died within 90 days of surgery.

Nigel Scott, audit clinical lead and consultant colorectal 
surgeon at the Royal Preston Hospital, said: “Bowel cancer emergency admissions are a persistent and very significant health problem.

“Symptom awareness campaigns are useful to break down the taboos of bottoms and bowels that lock these symptoms behind the bathroom door. But emergency surgery continues to be the Cinderella of surgical practice in the UK.”