New report shows survival improvements

Monday 14 December 2015


A report out today has shown that the number of people surviving bowel cancer following major surgery has increased in recent years.

The National Bowel Cancer Audit Report 2015 reveals that during 2013-14 96.2% of patients were alive 90 days after a major operation for bowel cancer. This is an improvement from 2009-10 when 94.2% of patients were alive on the same measure.The difference means hundreds more patients are now surviving bowel cancer following major surgery since more than 19,000 patients undergo surgery every year. Surgery is the main and most effective treatment for bowel cancer.

In response to the report, Mark Flannagan, our Chief Executive, said: “It’s encouraging to see improvements being made and we welcome the fact that additional information is being made available to help us understand more about diagnosis and care.

“Whilst positive improvements are happening in terms of the numbers of people surviving bowel cancer, there are still worrying variations across the country.

“Along with later diagnosis, less effective treatment is the other major cause of poorer bowel cancer survival rates in England compared to the rest of Europe. For example getting access to keyhole surgery depends on where you live.

“We have a real opportunity to make bowel cancer a rare cancer killer by making sure that people are diagnosed earlier. More than 9 in 10 cases of bowel cancer can be treated successfully if caught in the early stages, compared to less than one in 10 at late stage, so more needs to be done to drive improvements in treatment and care for everyone.”

The audit was published today by the Royal College of Surgeons in partnership with the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), The Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland (ACPGBI) and commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) as part of the National Clinical Audit Programme.

Today’s report also finds that:

  • A large majority (82%) of patients having major surgery to remove their cancer are still alive two-years later.
  • One in three patients don’t have major surgery to remove their cancer. This reduces their survival rates. For example, only 36% of patients whose cancer is too advanced or who are too frail to withstand surgery were still alive two years after diagnosis.
  • Overall two year survival varies widely across England and Wales from 52% to 68%.
  • Almost half of patients have their tumour removed by ‘key hole’ (laparoscopic) surgery.

The full version of the 2015 Annual report is available here.

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