Revised guidelines recommend that GPs double cancer referrals

“Early referral and diagnosis can help save lives” (Professor Baker, NICE).

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellent (NICE) has set out new draft guidelines for GPs advising that the number of people referred for cancer tests should be almost doubled.

The draft guidelines are in the form of a table which links symptoms to cancer types and makes recommendations to GPs regarding appropriate referral procedures. These can be found on the NICE website.

While many GPs feel that their referral system works well, NICE pointed out that according to research, 10,000 people die every year because of a late cancer diagnosis.

Bowel cancer is survivable. The earlier it is caught the better, in fact
9 in 10 people will survive when it’s caught at stage one for 5 years or more. This is among the very best of any cancer statistic.

We are committed to reducing the number of people dying from bowel cancer. Since early diagnosis and treatment can be the difference between life and death, we believe raising awareness of the symptoms no-one should ignore is as important as the research we fund.

Learn your BCA – it could save your life!

While the majority of bowel cancer cases occur in people aged 50 plus, it can strike at a much younger age, so everyone needs to be aware of the signs and symptoms and know what BCA stands for:

B is for bleeding from the bottom. Always check after using the toilet.
C is for a change in your normal bowel habits that lasts for more than 3 weeks
A is for abdominal pain, acute tiredness and/or a lump in your tummy

If you experience any of these symptoms over 3 or more weeks see your GP

Screening Saves Lives 

The NHS now offers bowel cancer screening to people aged 60-74.  If and when you are sent a kit, do take action. Screening can detect the early signs of cancers before symptoms present and when treatment is most likely to be effective. We know it’s not a particularly nice job, but the response rates for screening could be much better. Don’t ignore this opportunity. 

For more NHS information please visit:

Over 74? It is possible to request a kit by calling Freephone 0800 707 6060 from England and 0800 0121 833 in Scotland

Reduce your risk

The link between healthy living and risk reduction is becoming increasingly acknowledged. Weight and alcohol are risk factors not only for bowel and many other cancers but heart disease and diabetes too. You can help protect yourself by:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet that’s rich in fibre and low in fat
  • Reducing your intake of fats, red meat and processed foods
  • Increasing your consumption of fresh fruit, vegetables and fish
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Monitoring the amount of alcohol you drink