Medical Mistake Claims - Simpson Millar LLP

Rise in Bowel Cancer

Author: Neil Fearn  Bullet  Dated: 02/04/2013

Men’s bowel cancer rates in the UK have risen by nearly 30% in the last 35 years, while women have seen an increase of only 6%, according to new figures from Cancer Research UK.

Bowel cancer is the 2nd most common cause of cancer death in the UK, after lung cancer and there are now more than 23,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The age group with the biggest rise is those in their 60s and 70s. The reasons for this rise, and the difference between men and women, are unknown.

The figures are released to mark bowel cancer awareness month and the launch of a new campaign by the Bobby Moore Fund.

Professor Matthew Seymour, professor of gastrointestinal cancer medicine at the University of Leeds, and who is also the director of the National Cancer Research Network, said: "We know the risk of bowel cancer increases as we get older and, since we’re all living longer, it’s no surprise to see that the number of people getting the disease is rising".

"But when we look at these figures and take people’s age into account, we still see that the risk of bowel cancer has gone up in men in the last 35 years. It’s important to find out what’s behind the rise and what we can do about it."

However, smoking, an inactive lifestyle, heavy alcohol intake of more than 4 drinks a day also increase the risk of bowel cancer.

Nevertheless, despite the rise in incidence among men, bowel cancer survival is improving year on year, with half of all patients living for at least 10 years after a diagnosis.

Stephanie Moore MBE, founded the Bobby Moore Fund after Bobby died of bowel cancer in 1993. It has consistently funded world class bowel cancer research and awareness projects, raising and investing around £20m to date and increased survival rates can be attributed to research that’s led to better drugs to treat the disease, improved surgical techniques, the use of more radiotherapy and the introduction of bowel screening to spot the disease earlier, when it is most effectively treated.

Dr Julie Sharp, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "Bowel cancer survival rates have doubled over the last 40 years and our work is at the heart of this progress."

She said the newly introduced NHS national bowel screening programme had played an important role by picking up cancers early, when treatment is more likely to succeed. And this year sees the gradual introduction of bowel scope, also known as flexi scope, into the screening programme. This is a one-off test offered to people aged 55 that looks for signs of bowel cancer and is predicted to save 3,000 lives a year once it has been fully rolled out.

Clearly, once cancer develops, the earlier a diagnosis is made the better the chances of a full recovery. If a diagnosis is left, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body (metastases), which can prove fatal. Unfortunately, it is sometimes the case that there has been a delay in diagnosing the cancer because of a mistake made by a health care professional. For example, there may have been:

  • A failure to carry out an accurate patient examination or obtain a full history
  • A failure to understand the history in combination with the other clinical findings.
  • A failure to notice the warning signs
  • A failure to arrange thorough patient investigations: Such as blood tests, X-Rays, Scans or Colonoscopies
  • A misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose by a pathologist or radiologist
  • A failure to urgently refer to a specialist
  • A failure to comply with the NHS referral guidelines (NICE) which mandate urgent referral
  • A failure to correctly to interpret the investigative results
  • An incorrect reporting of investigative results
  • A misdiagnosis of the cause of symptoms

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