A new study reveals that a third of patients in New Zealand are not being diagnosed until they turn up at a hospital emergency department with the end stage of the disease.
The three-year-long study known as PIPER project was funded by the Health Ministry and Health Research Council. Researchers studied 5500 patients' files in 2007-2008.
The study found that New Zealand has a higher proportion of patients diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer than other countries at 24% as opposed to 19% for Australia and 17% for the United Kingdom. Both of the Australia and the UK have national bowel cancer screening programs.
"This is a serious situation. When patients present to the emergency department the disease is more advanced. Currently we are letting 1200 people die each year from bowel cancer and still we have no decision and no action," said Sarah Derrett, one of the researchers.
Bowel cancer is also known as colorectal cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer. The condition is the growth of cancer in the colon or rectum. It is due to the abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to spread to other parts of the body.
Symptoms of bowel cancer may include blood in the stool, a change in bowel movements, weight loss, and feeling tired all the time.