Symptoms of bowel cancer in young people should be more widely recognised: our leading medical negligence lawyer comments on two major studies that reveal some worrying statistics for those under 30 in the UK.

17 May 2019

One of the region’s leading experts on medical negligence has reflected on the findings of two recent studies identifying increasing incidences of bowel cancer in young people.

Jonathan Baker, a senior solicitor and sector specialist at the firm was commenting after the results of the studies, which were undertaken in European and high-income countries and revealed a rise in those under 50 with the disease.

When compared with those over 50, cases were still low, said the report. However, it added there was a sharp rise in rates in 20 to 29-year-olds with researchers saying obesity and poor diet could be factors.

The news has led to experts urging doctors not to ignore symptoms in people of any age – and this has been echoed by Jonathan.

“The cases we have dealt are typically a delay in referral and therefore diagnosis. The unsuccessful cases have mainly involved younger patients, because the guidance suggests that it should generally only be considered in those over 50,” he said.

“These two studies clearly indicate that the index of suspicion should be raised for younger patients too,” added Jonathan who went further in suggesting that present UK guidelines may need to be reviewed to reflect these results.

NICE guidelines, while not legally binding, make recommendations, based on the best available evidence, for the care of people by healthcare and other professionals.

Jonathan commented: “Maybe the guidelines on bowel cancer should reflect this increasing prevalence in younger patients as well.”

In most of Europe, bowel cancer screening programmes start at the age of 50 because cases of the disease are much higher among this older age group. As a result, countries with established programmes, like the UK, have seen bowel cancer rates in the over-50s fall.


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