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Bowel cancer deaths the lowest for 10 years

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by Cancer Research UK | News

1 March 2002

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The number of people dying from bowel cancer in Britain has fallen to a 10-year low, according to the latest figures from Cancer Research UK.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the number of people dying from bowel cancer in Britain totalled more than 19,000 per year. The latest data shows this figure has now fallen to around 15,800 in Britain.

This is despite an increase in the incidence of the disease, which has continued to rise, with around 33,700 cases now diagnosed each year.

Dr Lesley Walker, Director of Cancer Information at Cancer Research UK, says: “We’re very encouraged by the drop in bowel cancer deaths. One key reason will be a steady improvement for treatment of the disease.

“Increased awareness of the disease also helps. Bowel cancer is one of the most curable forms of the disease if it is diagnosed and treated in the early stages. The drop in mortality may be due, in part, to patients being more willing to report the symptoms to their GP early on.

“More research is still needed to help us understand all the factors that are contributing to the rise in the numbers of people with disease. Demographic changes will certainly explain part of the increase. We are living longer and there is a decline in death rates from other causes, such as heart disease and stroke.

“Lifestyle is another factor. High calorie, meat rich, low fibre diets and a lack of exercise are likely to be contributory factors.

“It’s vital that we encourage people to eat a balanced diet, with plenty of vegetables, fruit and other foods high in natural fibre and starch. We should also moderate our intake of processed meats.”

The news comes on the day that Cancer Research UK launches Britain’s Biggest All Day Breakfast, sponsored by Kellogg’s Bran Flakes, where people across the country are asked to hold healthy breakfast parties to raise money for vital research into bowel and other cancers.

The event is being supported by TV presenter Gaby Roslin and her father, the broadcaster Clive Roslin who is a bowel cancer survivor.

Gaby Roslin says: “I have chosen to support Britain’s Biggest All Day Breakfast again because like many others, my family has been touched by cancer. My father Clive suffered from bowel cancer a few years ago, but thanks to advances in research, he is now fighting fit again.”