Lower the age for bowel cancer screening in England to 50

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Exactly a year ago today, my family was dealt an earth shattering blow when my mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer. She was 55 at the time, and we were told soon after, that the cancer was terminal.

She started chemotherapy immediately after diagnosis, but it was unfortunately too little, too late, and she passed away in March this year, a week after her 56th birthday.

Screening for bowel cancer is available on the NHS, but only from the age of 60. However, in Scotland they start screening from the age of 50. Finding this out was quite a bitter blow. If we lived in Scotland my mum would have already been screened three times before she was finally diagnosed, increasing her chance of being diagnosed earlier and increasing her chance of survival.

Screening isn’t foolproof, but Bowel Cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK and if caught in its earliest stages it’s curable. Cancer research published earlier this year found that if bowel cancer is caught in its earliest stages, there is a 97% chance of surviving 5 years. But if the cancer is caught in its later stages there is a 7% chance of survival. From figures I have found through research, I've estimated that up to 6000 people a year are being diagnosed with bowel cancer in their 50's. Considering they have had no screening available to them at all, I wonder how many of those like my mum are being diagnosed too late.

My Mum was the kind of person who would do anything for anyone. She was utterly selfless, loving and wonderful. Unfortunately nothing can change what has happened to my family, and we are having to live with our grief and heartbreak. But if by fighting for this change, even one family are spared this kind of loss then I think it's worth it.