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Bowel cancer will affect 5,000 extra Brits per year ‘if current trends continue’


FIVE thousand more Brits will get bowel cancer every year by 2040, warns Cancer Research UK as it battles the disease with millions raised by Sun columnist Dame Deborah James.

Cases are set to rise 10 per cent to 47,700 and there are projected to be 2,500 more deaths annually.

Dame Deborah James' Bowelbabe fund has raised £13million for charity


Dame Deborah James’ Bowelbabe fund has raised £13million for charityCredit: Dan Williams

The charity wants to improve survival rates with cash from Dame Debs’ Bowelbabe fund, which has hit a staggering £13million since she died in 2022.

Bowel cancer has already increased enough to become the third most common form of the disease, overtaking lung cancer for the first time in 2021.

Money raised by Debs, who was diagnosed aged just 35, will go on research to understand why cases are rising in under-50s.

Cancer Research CEO, Michelle Mitchell, said: “We’re honoured that Deborah entrusted us with keeping her legacy alive.

Read more on bowel cancer

Continuing Deborah’s work is vital as growing numbers of people will get bowel cancer

Heather JamesDame Deborah James’ mum

“With bowel cancer cases set to rise, we’ll continue working with her family to fund work that will make the most difference for people affected by cancer and their loved ones.”

Around 43,000 Brits are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, meaning it makes up about 11 per cent of all patients.

Half of people survive for 10 years or more after their diagnosis but 16,800 die each year.

A change to someone’s normal toilet habits or a lump or pain in the gut are the main symptoms.

Most new cases will be in ageing population

Beth Vincent, health information manager at CRUK, said:  “It’s important to remember that cancer is primarily a disease of older age.

“The predicted rise in people being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK can largely be explained by our growing and ageing population.

“We’re seeing a small increase in rates of early onset bowel cancer but this increase is partly due to population growth.

“But no matter how old you are, if you notice any changes that are not normal for you, or something that won’t go away, speak to your doctor.”

Dame Debs’ mum, Heather James, said: “Deborah improved the lives of so many when she was alive and, thanks to the ongoing generosity of the Fund’s supporters, she will keep making a difference to the lives of many more for years to come. 

“That is a true legacy. 

“We are beyond grateful to everyone that has donated, fundraised or helped to spread vital cancer awareness and know that together we have made her proud.

“As growing numbers of people will be diagnosed with bowel cancer in the years to come, continuing her work remains every bit as vital today as when she was first diagnosed.”


BOWEL cancer is the fourth most common form of the disease in the UK – but the second deadliest, claiming around 16,000 lives a year.

Yet it can be cured, if it’s diagnosed early enough. 

Fewer than one in ten people survive bowel cancer if it’s picked up at stage 4, but detected at stage 1 – before it’s spread – and more than nine in ten patients will live five years or longer.

There are two ways to ensure early diagnosis, screening and awareness of the symptoms.

Brits have been subjected to a postcode lottery when it comes to bowel cancer screening, with tests sent out in Scotland from 50, while people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have to wait until they are 60.

That’s why The Sun launched the No Time 2 Lose campaign, calling on the Government to lower the screening age, to save thousands of lives a year.

In the summer of 2018, Matt Hancock agreed, in a victory for The Sun and campaigners – yet three years on and screening at 50 has yet to be widely rolled out.

While screening is an important part of early diagnosis, so is knowing the symptoms and acting if you spot the signs.

The five red-flag symptoms are:

  • Bleeding from the back passage, or blood in your poo
  • A change in your normal toilet habits – going more or less often for example
  • Pain or lump in your tummy
  • Extreme tiredness for no real reason
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you’re worried, don’t be embarrassed and speak to your GP – doctors see and deal with bowel problems all the time.

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