New figures released by the charity Beating Bowel Cancer show a wide variation within the NHS in England in terms of the diagnosis of bowel cancer.
The findings have been collated by the Cancer Intelligence Network's Cancer Commissioning Toolkit, capturing data from over 150 Clinical Commission Groups (CCG) which care for hundreds of thousands of NHS patients.
In some regions, less than a third of cases are detected before the cancer has started to spread around the body and it has been suggested that 3,200 lives could be saved each year and £34 million could be diverted to other treatments, if all areas matched the well performing regions.
According to ITV News, the best CCGs diagnose 63% of patients early, compared with only 30% in the worst.
Some of the regions identified as needing improvement include Nottingham NHS CCG, East Leicestershire and Rutland.
Mark Flannagan, chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, told the BBC: "Millions of pounds could be freed up to be used for other bowel cancer treatments, which patients are frequently told are unaffordable."
To improve the current figures, he believes there is a need for better screening, renewed efforts to raise awareness of signs and symptoms, and investment to support improvements in GP performance in investigating and referring patients appropriately.
Early diagnosis is the key with those diagnosed with stage 1 cancer having a 97% chance of survival compared to 7% if the disease is in its advanced stages.
For information on the main symptoms of bowel cancer, please click here to read our article on the importance of early diagnosis and awareness of symptoms.
April 2015 is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. This aims to raise awareness of one of the most deadly forms of cancer in the UK. Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team supports the campaign and is experienced in dealing with cancer claims. Please click here for details about the service provided by our specialists.