Updated: Friday, 3rd July 2020 @ 7:20am

Bowel cancer death rate chasm between north and south Manchester revealed

Bowel cancer death rate chasm between north and south Manchester revealed

| By Aidan Gregory

Bowel cancer survival rates vary so drastically across Greater Manchester that patients are twice more likely to die in some areas than in others.

And Manchester’s survival rates as a whole are below the national average, MM can reveal.

The news comes after the publication of the National Bowel Cancer Audit by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, which collected data from NHS trusts across England and Wales. 

The study shows that from April 2008 to March 2011 1,641 patients had major surgery for bowel cancer in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Of those patients who had major surgery, the mortality rate after two years was 25.8% – 1.8% higher than the country’s average.

The audit also revealed discrepancies in survival rates between different Manchester hospitals.

At Tameside Hospital, 39% of patients died two years after surgery – almost a third higher than the national average.

However patients of University Hospital of South Manchester fared much better, with a two year post-op death rate of 14.3%.

In total, data was collected from 13 hospitals across the region, with nine recording mortality rates higher than the national average.

Wessex had the lowest amount of bowel cancer patient deaths two years after major surgery, at 21.2%. Wales had a higher than expected rate of 28%.

Several cancer charities have responded to the publication of the audit.

Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said: “Today's Bowel Cancer Audit highlights the importance of access to surgery for people with bowel cancer. 80% of people with bowel cancer who had major surgery survived for more than two years, compared with 43% of people who did not have surgery.

“It is vital that people who need surgery for bowel cancer have access to the highest quality surgery, regardless of where they live.”

Concerns were also raised by charities about the number of emergency admissions, when a patient is admitted to hospital and diagnosed with the disease when they are already in a serious condition.

Emergency admissions accounted for 21% of cases, while the chance of dying 90 days after emergency surgery was found to be 16%.

Mark Flannagan, Chief Executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, said: “Disappointingly, the figures show that more than one in five bowel cancer patients are operated on as an emergency case, when the disease tends to be more advanced and outcomes poorer.

“This data reminds us that early diagnosis saves lives, as more than nine in 10 cases of bowel cancer can be treated successfully if caught in the early stages.

“More still needs to be done to make both the public and GPs aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer and how vital it is to catch it early.”

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK with 41,600 people diagnosed in 2011 alone.

Since the 1970s, five year survival rates have almost doubled and sufferers are now twice as likely to survive for at least ten years yet bowel cancer remains the second most common cause of cancer death after lung cancer.

Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust and Audit Clinical Lead Nigel Scott said: “The National Bowel Cancer Audit continues to make a contribution to understanding and improving the patient journey for bowel cancer.

“Bowel cancer treatment requires a multi-disciplinary team approach to successfully manage and treat patients.

“It is a great credit to the hospital teams of surgeons, nurses, oncologists, radiologists, pathologists and many other professionals that 80% of resected cancer patients are surviving to two years.”

For more information about bowel cancer and Cancer Research UK, click here.

Image courtesy of Tareq Salahuddin, with thanks.