The chances of survival are worse when diagnosed late.
A fifth of patients with bowel cancer in England and Wales are diagnosed in an emergency presentation such as A&E, figures show.
The annual National Bowel Cancer Audit reveals that in the year to 31 March 2017, 23% of patients aged 60-74 were diagnosed via screening, while 54% were diagnosed following a GP referral.
Patients diagnosed through the screening programme are more likely to be diagnosed at an early stage of bowel cancer compared to patients diagnosed as an emergency.
Those diagnosed at the later stages of the disease have poorer survival chances.
The audit, which measures and compares the diagnosis, treatment and outcomes of over 30,000 bowel cancer patients, also shows only 2% of patients diagnosed with bowel cancer died within 90 days of major surgery. This is a slight improvement from 3% the previous year.
The use of keyhole surgery has increased by 4% since last year. Nearly 60% of patients having major surgery to remove their tumour are operated using this less invasive approach, which tends to have a shorter recovery time.
Two thirds (66%) of all bowel cancer patients survive beyond two years – a figure that has remained stable since 2012/13.
Deborah Alsina MBE, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said while it is encouraging to see two year survival rates have not dropped, there is still more work to be done to ensure that survival increases over time.
She claimed early diagnosis is critical to achieving this.
“The audit shows that the proportion of screen detected cancer in those of screening age has remained unchanged from the previous year at 23%, however this varies hugely across England and Wales,” she added.
This article was first published in HI Daily online magazine. You can read the original article here.