A Dunstable woman who discovered she had bowel cancer the day she retired from work, is joining the campaign for more screening.
Yvonne Dunne, 58, says she was lucky the disease was caught in time.
She said: “I decided to take early retirement when I was 55 and had lots of plans for how to fill my time. But on the first day of my retirement I was taken by ambulance to A&E, where they discovered that my bowel was blocked. I had emergency surgery that day and woke up to discover I now had a colostomy bag and had to spend 10 days in hospital recovering. This was followed by 3 months recuperating at home.
“I have since discovered that the survival rates for bowel cancer are really good if it’s caught early, but most emergency admissions are usually more advanced cancer and the survival rates are much worst. So I was very lucky.
“Had I been offered bowel screening at 50, my cancer would have been discovered much sooner. I would not have needed such drastic surgery and my family and friends would have been saved a lot of the emotional trauma that occurred.”
She said: “If the screening age was reduced from 60 to 50 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to bring it in line with Scotland, thousands of bowel cancer patients each year would have the opportunity of being diagnosed at an earlier stage.”
Beating Bowel Cancer explains that if the bowel screening age was lowered, over 4,000 patients a year in their 50s would have the opportunity to be diagnosed early (at stage 1) with a 97% survival rate.
If found at a later stage the cancer is more difficult to treat successfully and their odds of survival could be reduced to as little as 7%.
Statistics show you are far more likely to be diagnosed at stage 1 through screening than through referral from your GP or through A&E.
Director of Services at Beating Bowel Cancer, Judith Brodie, said: “Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer and it’s time we changed the odds for patients in their 50s in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It’s shocking that they are not being given the same opportunity of an early diagnosis as those in Scotland, where they are already screened from the age of 50. They are being badly let down and they deserve better.
“With the increase in the ageing population, more and more patients are going to be affected unless something changes now. There is no excuse for allowing this inequality to carry on.”
Yvonne said: “We all need to get behind Beating Bowel Cancer’s campaign to make sure people in their 50s throughout the UK are screened.”