World Cancer Day 2021

4 February 2021

Can you imagine a future without the threat of bowel cancer? At Bowel Research UK we know it is possible, and we want to play our part in making that vision a reality.

42,000 people will be diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK every year on average.  It takes over 16,000 lives, more than any other form of the disease bar lung cancer. Anal cancer is rarer but will still affect over 1,500 Britons annually and kill around 420.

Thanks to research, more people survive these cancers than ever before. Survival rates have more than doubled in the last 40 years.

That’s because we’re constantly improving our understanding of how to spot tumours earlier and finding new ways to treat them more effectively. Research like the IMPACT audit, which for the first time ever mapped the availability of cancer services for people with advanced bowel tumours. We are delighted to have funded such a vital study. The situation facing rectal cancer patients with late stage and recurrent rectal cancer is now much clearer – but this is just the start, there is a lot of life-saving work left to do.

Or the ONCORE Study, which proved the safety of ‘watch and wait’ care for people who have a complete response to radiotherapy, and created the largest patient data registry of its kind in the world, a truly world-leading resource for improving patient care.

You can find out about all of our studies on our world-class research hub.

We know that with the help of our amazing supporters and dedicated research teams, we’re moving towards a day when we can say every patient will beat this awful disease. Sadly, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on research funding threatens to make that day look a lot further away – but your support today can help to stop that from happening.

Bowel cancer in the shadow of a global pandemic

On World Cancer Day last year, we had no idea what was about to happen just over a month later. Facing cancer at any time is the most daunting of challenges – but since March 2020 it’s been unimaginably hard.

One of our supporters, Jason Garrod, from Watford, was diagnosed in March 2020. He is now cancer free and this January he and his wife Christalla raised £815 to help keep our research on track. He shared his story with us here.

With screening programmes suspended, planned care cancelled or delayed and access to therapy restricted due to lockdowns and pressures on the NHS, it’s been a difficult time for patients up and down the country. In a fantastic podcast for Sky News, two people with stage 4 cancer discuss the realities of getting on with treatment during the crisis.

A huge worry is also those people who have bowel cancer but have not been diagnosed. Research from the University of Oxford suggests over 3,500 fewer people than expected were diagnosed with bowel cancer between April and October last year. With a second lockdown and unprecedented pressure on hospitals over the winter, it’s highly likely many, many more cases will have been missed.

At Bowel Research UK, we funded a rapid research response to the pandemic, to tackle the disruption to rectal cancer services, protect people needing cancer surgery and provide video guides for people having treatment during the crisis, hearing from fellow patients.

“Bowel cancer is much easier to treat the earlier it is caught. With many thousands of patients now likely to be diagnosed at a later stage than they should be, the need for research to improve care has never been so acute.” – Asha Senapati, Bowel Research UK co-Chair

Hope for the future

The power of research to save and change the lives of those affected by bowel cancer is incredible. We know that bowel cancer won’t stop because of the coronavirus – so nor can our research.

At the start of the year we announced funding for new projects, including one to stop bowel cancer developing resistance to chemotherapy. Studies like this bring hope to so many – and are only possible thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

Thank you as always for your help – and let’s hope that between now and the next World Cancer Day we’re able to announce many more new projects, and keep on fighting these awful diseases together.


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