The fight against bowel cancer has received some much needed boosts this month, as the British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that £60m over the next four years will go towards the latest in cancer screening technology. Cancer charities welcomed the move, but stressed that it could not come a moment too soon; bowel cancer is England’s third biggest cancer killer, responsible for the deaths of around 13,000 people in 2008 alone, and the UK’s cancer survival rates are currently lagging well behind the European average.
Initial estimates indicate that better screening, using a technique called flexible sigmoidoscopy, also known as Flexi-Scope, could save up to 3,000 lives a year. The technique allows doctors to identify and remove polyps within the bowel before they are able to develop into cancerous cells.
This piece of good news follows on from the recent findings of a five year study led by Michael Dunlop, of the University of Edinburgh, that people who have been taking low doses of aspirin on a daily basis have a significantly reduced risk of contracting the disease.
The study is by no means the first of its kind; Andrew Chan, of Harvard Medical School, conducted a 20 year study of 130,000 individuals which concluded that 325 milligram daily doses of aspirin significantly reduced the likelihood of contracting bowel cancer.
However, Dunlop’s latest study of nearly 3,000 individuals has found that the rate of developing bowel cancer was 25% lower in those who had been taking daily doses of only 75 milligrams than those who had not regularly taken aspirin. This would equate to a prevention rate of 16 per 100,000 cases of bowel cancer in the UK, and would potentially be subject to significantly less side effects than the dosage required in Chan’s earlier study.