Speak to a registered nurse.
Call the Beating Bowel Cancer Helpline
(9-5:30 Mon - Thu, 9-4 Fri)

020 8973 0011

or email

Bowel cancer: a vision for 2020

Our report Bowel cancer: a vision for 2020 illustrates how we all can, by 2020, set out to beat cancer through earlier diagnosis, better treatment, care and support.

9000 more lives saved

In the report we set out the five key ambitions that will make this a reality:

  • One million more people screened
  • No one with symptoms turned away
  • The best treatment for every patient
  • More bowel cancer nurses
  • Support for everyone after treatment

The report details why these ambitions are essential and how they can be achieved.


Mark Flannagan, our Chief Executive, said: “Bowel cancer can be beaten – if we act now to diagnose more people early and we deliver the best possible care and treatment.


“Our ambition is to see an extra 9,000 lives saved and better care for every patient by 2020 if we all work together.


When diagnosed at an early stage, more than 9 out of 10 people survive for five years or more. At a late stage, this drops to less than one in 10.


Yet currently a huge variation in early diagnosis rates among Clinical Commissioning Groups throughout England. If every Clinical Commissioning Group in England diagnosed the same percentage of patients at an early stage as the current best performers, then our ambition of saving 9,000 lives would be achieved.


The report says that as well as improving survival rates, we need better support for people with bowel cancer before, during and after treatment.


The report stresses that the impact of bowel cancer doesn’t end when treatment stops. Many people are left with pain, exhaustion, anxiety and problems relating to sexual function, continence and poor nutrition. There’s also the financial impact of cancer – lots of people have to stop working during treatment. Almost one in three people with cancer experience an average loss of income of £860 a month. Many people, particularly those with more advanced cancer, will continue to receive treatment for many years.


Mark Flannagan added: “We now have an opportunity to make bowel cancer a rare cancer killer, with more lives saved, and ensure better care for every bowel cancer patient. To make this a reality we need to work together. The NHS, government, doctors, nurses and health professionals, charities, scientists, researchers, and the public, can all join together and make this happen.


To produce Bowel cancer: a vision for 2020 we surveyed over 1,000 people affected by bowel cancer and we built ambitions for the future based on their experiences. We’d like to thank every one of them for their time and support.

We also consulted expert clinicians and others involved in treatment and care and are grateful for the input of the following people and organisations to produce this vision:

  • Professor Sean Duffy, National Clinical Director for Cancer for NHS England
  • Mr Michael Machesney, Chair of the Colorectal Clinical Reference Group
  • The Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland
  • Bowel Cancer UK
  • The British Society of Gastroenterology

You can read the full report here.