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Friday, 1 March, 2002, 09:37 GMT
Bowel cancer deaths plummet
Improved treatment has cut deaths from bowel cancer
Improved treatment has cut deaths from bowel cancer
The number of people dying from bowel cancer has fallen to a 10-year low, but increasing numbers are being diagnosed with the disease.

Figures from the charity Cancer Research UK show the number of people in Britain has fallen from more than 19,000 per year in the late 1980s and early 1990s to 15,800 in 2000.

This fall has occurred despite the fact there are more cases of the disease, with the latest incidence figures from 1998 showing around 33,700 cases are diagnosed each year.

Experts say increased awareness and better treatment have been key to the drop in deaths.

We're very encouraged by the drop in bowel cancer deaths

Dr Lesley Walker, Cancer Research UK
They say one of the reasons for the increase in the numbers suffering from bowel cancer is that people are living longer and there is a decline in death rates from other causes, such as heart disease and stroke.

People's lifestyle may also be a factor.  Many choose high-calorie, meat-rich, low fibre diets and do too little exercise.

Experts recommend eating a balanced diet, including plenty of vegetables, fruit and other foods high in natural fibre and starch and reducing intake of processed meats.

Cancer Research UK is launching a campaign, sponsored by Kellogg's Bran Flakes, to encourage people to hold healthy breakfast parties to raise money for research into bowel and other cancers.

Early diagnosis 'key'

Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: "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."

But she added: "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."

The BBC's Christine Stewart
"The number of people with the disease continues to rise"
See also:

01 Mar 02 | Health
'I wish I'd known more'
31 Jan 02 | Health
Gene test hope for bowel cancer
28 Aug 01 | Health
Bowel cancer drug tested
22 Jun 01 | Health
Fibre slashes bowel cancer risk
19 Mar 01 | Health
Bowel cancer 'undetected'
22 Nov 00 | Health
Call for over 50s bowel screening
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