Bowel cancer deaths could increase by 2,500 per year by 2040 – Cancer Research UK

The number of people in the UK diagnosed with bowel cancer will rise by around a tenth by 2040, according to new analysis released by the Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK. 

Researchers projected that if current trends continue, bowel cancer cases will rise from 42,800 to 47,700 each year. This means there could be an average of around 2,500 more deaths from bowel cancer per year. 

Why are the numbers increasing?

The UK’s growing and ageing population is behind this increase in numbers – as older people are more likely to get cancer. This means there will be more people with a greater chance of developing cancer, more cancer survivors requiring follow-up care and more patients with complex needs.   

These figures are a stark reminder of the ongoing need for life-saving cancer research and the importance of raising awareness around the signs and symptoms of the disease.  

Continuing Deborah’s legacy

Dame Deborah James was a passionate advocate for this, leading to the Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK being set up in May 2022 to continue her incredible legacy. Thanks to the generosity of the public and partners, the Fund has raised £13m to help combat bowel cancer and has now committed £10m to support seven pioneering projects that are helping to give more people more time with the people they love.   

In March 2024, the Fund announced it would be pledging £5m over the next five years to help support the work of the Cancer Grand Challenges team PROSPECT looking into early-onset bowel cancer (diagnosed in people under 50).   

“Deborah improved the lives of so many when she was alive and, thanks to the ongoing generosity of the Fund’s supporters, she will keep making a difference to the lives of many more for years to come. That is a true legacy,” said Heather James, Deborah’s mum.  

“And as growing numbers of people will be diagnosed with bowel cancer in the years to come, continuing her work remains every bit as vital today as when she was first diagnosed.”   

Other projects funded include, exploring the use of artificial intelligence, blood tests to detect the earliest signs of cancer and understanding how bowel cancer spreads and a new, advanced Interventional radiology X-Ray machine at The Royal Marsden 

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