WEARSIDE death rates from bowel cancer are higher than the national average, a new map has revealed.
Beating Bowel Cancer has published the survey mapping the death rates as well as the number of people diagnosed with the disease.
The charity hopes the new tool will encourage people to get screened and take swift action if they suffer from any of the common symptoms.
Across England, the average number of people with bowel cancer per 100,000 of the population is 46.07, with almost 18 people per 100,000 dying from the disease every year.
In Sunderland, the number of people diagnosed with the disease is 54.42. The death rate is 22.02.
Glasgow has the UK’s highest bowel cancer death rate, with 31 people dying a year and Rossendale in Lancashire has the lowest rate, with the figure falling to nine.
The charity has been unable to precisely pinpoint the cause of the variations, but has put it down to the number of people taking up bowel cancer screening, poor awareness of symptoms and unhealthy lifestyles and diets.
Mark Flannagan, Beating Bowel Cancer chief executive, said: “Too many people are dying from bowel cancer, no matter where they live.
“Deaths from bowel cancer could, and should, be much less common.
“Early diagnosis is key, so today we are calling on people to take responsibility for their bowel cancer risk.
“People can give themselves a life-saving chance by being aware of bowel cancer symptoms and taking part in bowel cancer screening when it is offered to them.”
A City of Sunderland Hospitals spokesman said: “Bowel cancer is one of the most dangerous cancers and it is essential that individuals contact their GPs immediately if they fear symptoms that indicate problems, such as bloody stools.
“The sooner patients are seen and into the system, the quicker their treatment and increased chances of avoiding very serious illness.
“A healthy lifestyle, plenty of exercise, a careful diet and little alcohol, will all help avoid conditions like bowel cancer.”
‘It saved my life’
CANCER survivor John Finnon, of Roker, is one man who knows the importance of bowel cancer screening.
The 66-year-old took the home test two years ago and it came back clear.
But when he retook it in March he discovered he had the disease.
Within four weeks, he had an operation and a series of tests have just come back clear, meaning he is hopefully well on his way to recovery.
The grandad-of-one said: “I seriously believe this test saved my life and if these maps encourage more people to take the test then it’s a great thing.
“The problem with me was that I had none of the symptoms, absolutely nothing to suggest I had it so anyone who doesn’t take this test when it’s offered to them is a fool.”
How to avoid it
THE map also includes information on how to avoid bowel cancer.
A list of symptoms and information about screening is also available.
To view the map, visit www.bowelcancermap.org