Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch

Bowel Cancer UK has received a major boost in it's campaign for better diagnosis and treatment of younger bowel cancer patients

The leading cancer charity has gained high profile support from a diverse range of celebrities including Sir Chris Hoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ricky Gervais and Ben Richards for their campaign for potentially life-saving testing for younger people at higher risk of bowel cancer.

The charity is Bowel Cancer UK, with a campaign entitled Never Too Young, which is focusing on better surveillance screening of high risk groups. Other celebrities who are backing the Never Too Young campaign include Alan Davies, Sharron Davies, Matthew Wright, Carol Decker, Stephen Fry, Julia Bradbury and Neil Stuke (link here).

Bowel Cancer UK’s Never Too Young campaign calls for action to address the lack of regular tests (surveillance screening) and support for younger people at high risk of bowel cancer.

There are several ways people can take action:
• SHARE THE SYMPTOMS of bowel cancer and help raise awareness
• ADD YOUR NAME to our growing number of campaign supporters

The need for regular tests for those at high risk of bowel cancer was highlighted recently by bowel cancer patient Stephen Sutton, who died tragically in May, just over a month ago.

TV presenter Matthew Wright, who is one of the celebrity supporters, commented:
“My dad died of bowel cancer when he was 56 and most of the men in our family have either died from the disease or survived it. So I know how dreadful it can be. I discovered a few years ago that Lynch syndrome ran in my family, the same gene which affected Stephen Sutton’s family, the inspiring teenager who died so tragically recently and that’s why I had genetic testing. It’s so important that people who are at high risk of developing bowel cancer through a genetic condition like Lynch syndrome are tested for it. I’m 100% behind Bowel Cancer UK’s Never Too Young campaign which is calling for better testing and screening for younger bowel cancer patients and their families, it really can save lives.”

Deborah Alsina, CEO of Bowel Cancer UK, said, “We have been running our Never Too Young campaign for the last year and we are currently focusing on surveillance screening of high risk groups. These include families with a genetic condition called Lynch syndrome, people with a strong family history or those who have had an inflammatory bowel condition for over ten years. They need high quality surveillance screening to reduce their risk of developing bowel cancer."

Link here to the recent Bowel Cancer UK briefing on this:

The Bowel Cancer UK briefing highlights that, whilst professional guidelines have been published, the reality is that the implementation is at best patchy, yet regular screening of people at high risk has been proven to save lives. 

Deborah Alsina continued, "While bowel cancer is thankfully relatively rare in younger people, around 2,100 people under 50 are still diagnosed with it each year, often late. That's why we launched our Never Too Young campaign, to improve the diagnosis, treatment and care of younger bowel cancer patients and to raise awareness amongst younger people and health professionals. Early diagnosis really does save lives."

"In memory of all the 550 people under 50 who lose their lives to bowel cancer each year in the UK, we are determined to save lives by ensuring people gain access to the screening surveillance they need, so that bowel cancer can be ruled out first, not last, in younger patients.”

As part of the Never Too Young campaign, Bowel Cancer UK has developed solutions to this issue alongside leading bowel cancer clinicians and some of the thousands of younger people affected by bowel cancer. 

One initiative announced recently is a new research project with Department of Health funding which will be run by the University of Exeter and Bowel Cancer UK. The research will lead to the development of a new clinical decision aid tool which is aimed at speeding up the diagnosis of bowel cancer and bowel disease in patients under the age of 50 (link for more details here: Exeter research).

Celebrity Support

Sir Chris Hoy
“I know how important it is to have inspirational role models and Stephen Sutton was one of the best. He was so courageous in spite of everything he had been through. I was unaware that people of Stephen’s age could get bowel cancer. That’s why I’m backing Bowel Cancer UK’s Never Too Young campaign to help improve the diagnosis and treatment of younger patients.”

Ben Richards
“I thought I had just tummy ache whilst filming in India but if I hadn’t gone to the GP when I did, then I probably wouldn’t be alive now. I was 39 when I was told I had a 6cm tumour in my bowel. I had no idea it might be bowel cancer. I discovered that I am actually in a high risk group for bowel cancer as other members of my family have had polyps.”

“Now I feel it’s my responsibility as a survivor to share my story and hopefully it will be seen by other people who thought the same – that it would never happen to them. That’s why I’m now a patron for Bowel Cancer UK and supporting their Never Too Young campaign to highlight the fact that the disease is not confined to older people.”

Ricky Gervais 
“Stephen Sutton achieved so much in his short life time, he was a real hero and a true inspiration to us all. But his death might have been avoidable if he had been diagnosed earlier. That’s why I’m supporting Bowel Cancer UK’s Never Too Young campaign for change, to try to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Bowel Cancer UK gets backing from Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch
“Stephen Sutton’s story made a big impact on me, he was so inspirational and achieved so much. Like many others, I was unaware that younger people can also develop bowel cancer. I would like to help change that, so I’m supporting Bowel Cancer UK’s Never Too Young campaign to improve diagnosis of younger patients.”

championing our Never Too Young campaign to raise awareness and improve the diagnosis

Julia Bradbury:
“Bowel cancer should be a good news story. My mother was diagnosed early and is now living proof that you can survive bowel cancer. Yet still today too many lives are lost, including people under the age of 50. As the tragic loss of Stephen Sutton showed, this is not just an older person’s disease, it can develop at any age. That’s why as a patron of Bowel Cancer UK, I am championing our Never Too Young campaign to raise awareness and improve the diagnosis, treatment and care of younger bowel cancer patients. Early diagnosis really does save lives.”

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