CALLS have been made for earlier diagnosis of Bowel Cancer diagnosis to improve survival rates in Wales following the death of a Penarth man.

A report from Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer entitled, ‘Spotlight on bowel cancer in Wales: early diagnosis saves lives’, highlights more than half of patients diagnosed with bowel cancer survive for five years or more (58%), five out of the seven health boards breach waiting times for tests that can diagnose bowel cancer and an alarmingly low number of eligible people take part in the bowel screening programme.

Penarth man Sam Gould campaigned and fundraised for the charity before his death, aged just 33, last year.

He was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in April 2017 at the age of 33 and died just a few months later.

Just after his diagnosis Mr Gould shared his experience with the charity: “Like most men, I tend to discount concerns about my health, but I developed a lot of pain and was bleeding when I went to the toilet.

"I realised that I could have bowel cancer, but at first the doctor thought I was too young and put me on a 30 week waiting list for a hospital appointment, rather than the urgent cancer referral list which was two weeks long.

"After pleading with the endoscopy department for any cancellation, I was able to get a quicker appointment, which confirmed that I did have cancer. The diagnosis was a terrible shock for me and my family, my wife Caroline and our three children, Olivia, Louisa, and Pippa."

The charity is now calling on the Welsh Government and NHS Wales to work together to set a timescale and create targets for improvements.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in Wales. Every year 2,200 people are diagnosed and over 900 people die from the disease, making bowel cancer the second biggest cancer killer. Early diagnosis is crucial because the chance of surviving the disease is closely linked to the stage of cancer.

Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage of disease (stage one) will survive, however survival rate drops significantly for those who are diagnosed at the later stages (stage three or four).

Screening is the best way to diagnose bowel cancer early but in 2016 only 53.4 per cent of people eligible to take the bowel screening test in Wales actually completed it. For those that need further hospitals tests via endoscopy, many will wait much longer than the eight week wait target.

Figures released on 18 January 2018 by StatsWales for November 2017 reveal that over 1,800 people are waiting longer than the eight week target set by the Welsh Assembly for colonoscopy or flexi-sigmoidoscopy, which can detect bowel cancer.

Nearly 1,000 of these patients (991) are waiting more than 14 weeks.