Bowel Cancer

Thank you for contacting me about bowel cancer.

As the second leading cause of cancer deaths, please allow me to reassure you that tackling bowel cancer remains a key priority of the NHS.

With five-year survival rates for bowel cancer now at 59 per cent, up from just 24 per cent in the 1970s, I welcome the great progress which has been made towards improving outcomes for patients with this type of cancer. That said, more remains to be done and I am encouraged by recent action taken to improve early diagnosis of bowel cancer, a key aspect of fighting the disease.

Currently, a one-off bowel cancer screening test is available for over 55-year olds, while those aged between 60 and 74 are automatically invited to perform a home test every two years. I am encouraged that a new, easier to use, more accurate home test kit is being introduced across England this autumn, which is expected to increase participation in these home tests by 7 per cent. Moreover, I was delighted by the Government's recent commitment to lower the age restriction to ensure all those aged 50 to 74 are offered these home tests every two years. This will help to detect the stages of bowel cancer much earlier, and I am glad that work is now underway to determine how best to achieve this aim.

These measures form just part of the NHS's ambitious wider strategy to improve cancer outcomes and save 30,000 lives per year by 2020. Following the announcement of a £20 billion real terms increase in the budget of NHS England, I am more confident than ever that the cancer strategy will achieve this aim.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.