Bowel overtakes lung to becomes THIRD most common type of cancer amid UK’s obesity crisis
Bowel cancer is now the third most common form of the disease – and experts say our junk food-laden diets are to blame.
In 2021, more than 41,000 patients were diagnosed with the disease in England.
It means that colon cancer has overtaken the lungs for the first time since measurements began in 1995.
Only the breasts (almost 50,000) and the prostate (43,000) become more ill.
Officials believe more people getting tested – inspired by high-profile cases such as Dame Deborah James’ – has helped boost diagnosis rates.
But being obese, eating too much red meat and not enough fiber can also cause the disease.
According to the latest NHS data, around 41,596 patients were diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2021. It means that colon cancer has overtaken the lungs for the first time since records began in 1995, behind only breast and prostate cancer. Breast, prostate and lung cancer registered 49,775, 43,378 and 39,635 diagnoses respectively in 2021
Officials say more people getting tested and feeling comfortable talking to their doctor is improving diagnosis rates, helped by high-profile cases including Dame Deborah James (pictured) who shed light on the cancer
In 2021, around 41,596 bowel cancer diagnoses were recorded in England.
The number of cases increased by 11 percent among men, to 2,368, and by 9 percent among women, an increase of 1,566, between 2019 and 2021.
These figures marked the biggest increase for any type of cancer in both sexes.
Lynn Dunne, head of the Bowel Research UK charity, said: ‘It is worrying that cases of bowel cancer are now more common than lung cancer.
‘There are indications that the number of people under the age of 60 being detected and treated for bowel cancer is increasing.
‘This may be related to lifestyle problems such as poor nutrition and it is known that obesity and smoking also play a role.’
Last year the NHS said Dame Deborah’s campaign prompted record numbers of people to test themselves for the disease.
The campaigner, columnist and podcast host died of bowel cancer last year aged 40, after raising £7.5million for her BowelBabe fund for Cancer Research UK.
Bowel cancer can cause you to have blood in your poop, a change in bowel habits, or a lump in your bowel that can cause blockages. Some people also suffer from weight loss as a result of these symptoms
Last month, in the first analysis of its kind, researchers from Cancer Research UK, King’s College London and Queen Mary University of London found that cancer patients were deprived of an average of 14.1 years of their lives between 2013 and 2017.
Ten-year survival rates for common cancers have now topped 50 percent, and experts say further improvements can be made in the coming decade.
NHS chiefs have urged people not to be ‘squeamish about poo’, with many reluctant to talk about it as a possible symptom of bowel cancer out of shame.
The screening was extended in 2010 to all adults aged 60 to 74 registered with a GP in England and will be extended again to adults aged over 50 in 2025.
Adults in this age group automatically receive an NHS screening kit for bowel cancer every two years, known as a faecal immunohistochemical test (FIT).
Screening involves taking a small sample of stool at home and sending it back to a laboratory, where it is checked for traces of blood, which can be a sign of cancer.
Those with abnormal results will be invited for further checks, such as a colonoscopy, which may find precancerous growths or cancer.
Professor Peter Johnson, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England, said: ‘We are forever grateful to people like Deborah James, who has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of bowel cancer and the importance of early detection, and whose efforts will undoubtedly save lives saved.’
Dame Deborah’s parents Heather and Alistair James also said: ‘She was constantly telling people to check their poo, to encourage early diagnosis. If you get a test in the mail, take it.”
Bowel cancer remains the second biggest cancer killer in Britain, says Cancer Research UK. More than 16,500 people die from it – about 45 a day.
According to estimates from the American Cancer Society, approximately 107,000 cases and 53,000 deaths from cancer are reported annually in the US.