Yorkshire Cancer Research targets region’s bowel cancer postcode lottery

in News/Yorkshire

Yorkshire Research has launched a £1.5m five-year scheme aimed at significantly improving standards of treatment and care for bowel in Yorkshire.

The is using Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, which takes place in April, to highlight a ‘postcode lottery’ in one year survival rates across the region.

Outcomes for bowel cancer in Yorkshire vary widely between hospitals and lag behind the best UK and European institutions.

  Incidence per 100,000 (ASR) Mortality per 100,000 (ASR) % surviving 1 year (2012)
England average 71.6 27.6 76.7
Yorkshire average 69.9 28.5 75.9
NHS Airedale, Wharfedale & Craven 62.2 29.4 79.0
NHS Barnsley 56.1 23.4 75.3
NHS Bradford City 43.9 19.0 74.4
NHS Bradford Districts 66.1 28.1 77.8
NHS Calderdale 79.0 29.1 72.7
NHS Doncaster 73.7 24.1 75.9
NHS East Riding of Yorkshire 69.6 31.5 75.1
NHS Greater Huddersfield 72.1 28.9 75.3
NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire & Whitby 68.0 26.3 76.5
NHS & Rural District 64.1 30.7 79.7
NHS Hull 76.3 29.8 73.2
NHS North 73.2 32.9 77.5
NHS Leeds South & East 72.1 26.6 71.5
NHS Leeds West 74.3 29.2 74.5
NHS North Kirklees 67.5 24.8 74.2
NHS Rotherham 73.8 28.5 74.6
NHS Scarborough & Ryedale 79.6 32.4 73.6
NHS Sheffield 76.8 28.4 79.8
NHS South Tees 79.0 37.3 79.5
NHS Vale of 74.9 27.7 79.7
NHS Wakefield 66.3 31.0 74.8


Leeds South and East CCG has one of the poorest survival rates in the country, with just 71.5% of patients surviving one year after diagnosis in 2012. This differs significantly from the England average of 76.7% and Sheffield CCG, the best performing area in Yorkshire, which had a one year survival rate of 79.8%.

In 2012, 3,476 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer in Yorkshire. Based on the average Yorkshire one year survival rate, an estimated 2,638 patients survived one year after diagnosis. If all areas in Yorkshire matched the England average, an additional 28 people would have survived for one year after being diagnosed. If Yorkshire matched the best in England – Stafford and Surrounds CCG at 83.4% – an additional 261 people in the region would have survived at least one year.

The new programme will be led by Professor Phil Quirke, an expert in bowel cancer based at the University of Leeds’ Institute of Cancer and Pathology. The project will use existing and new data to learn more about the current practice and performance of Yorkshire hospitals. The team will then work closely with hospitals to identify areas for improvement and the methods and processes they can use to improve.

Professor Quirke said:

This project will ensure the highest quality of treatment is available across the county including state of the art surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy as well as collecting information specific to each patient which will be used to guide treatment and monitor outcomes.

The aim is for all hospitals in the region to achieve the ‘gold standard’ in bowel cancer treatment and care, saving the lives of 150 patients every year in Yorkshire.


Charles Rowett, Chief Executive Officer at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said:

The variation in bowel cancer outcomes across Yorkshire is shocking and needs to be tackled urgently. Thanks to the continued support of people living in and around Yorkshire, we are delighted to be able to fund research that will address these huge discrepancies so that everyone in the region, no matter where they live, has the very best possible chance of survival.

Symptoms of bowel cancer include:

  • A persistent change in bowel habit, causing you to go to the toilet more often and pass looser stools
  • Blood on or in your stools, or bleeding from the back passage
  • Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating
  • Weight loss
  • A straining feeling in the rectum
  • A lump in your back passage or abdomen
  • Tiredness caused by anaemia

If you are worried, please go and see your GP. If cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it can usually be treated more successfully.


Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in Yorkshire. If it’s detected at an early stage, before symptoms appear, it’s easier to treat and there’s a better chance of survival.

Taking part in screening means that if you have bowel cancer, it is more likely to be found at an early stage when it can be treated more successfully. Screening may also detect pre-cancerous cells in the bowel, which can easily be removed. This means a diagnosis of cancer is avoided.

Bowel cancer screening is currently available for all people aged 60-74. Those eligible will receive a home test kit in the post every two years. This is known as the faecal occult blood (FOB) test. Those over the age of 75 can also request a kit by calling Freephone 0800 707 60 60.

The NHS is also in the process of introducing a one-off test called bowel scope screening across England. This is offered to men and women at the age of 55. It involves a doctor or nurse using a thin, flexible instrument to look inside the lower part of the bowel.


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