Actor’s petition to start bowel cancer screening at age 50

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An Eastbourne actor is campaigning for the bowel cancer screening age to be dropped from 60 to 50 after her mother died from the disease.

Lauren Backler, from Seaside, has already managed to get 75,000 signatures for the petition and told eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell about her campaign when the pair met in Westminster at a function hosted by the charity Beating Bowel Cancer.

Dropping the screening age could save up to 9,000 lives a year because around one million more people will be screened. The screening age is 50 in Scotland and Lauren said that her mother would have already been screened several times if she lived north of the border, and that could have saved her life.

Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer with 6,000 people diagnosed every year. It is curable if diagnosis is early enough.

Caroline Ansell said, “Lauren is doing a fantastic job of raising awareness of the bowel cancer screening age difference within the UK and I will be writing to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to ask him whether a change down to 50 is possible in England.

“But it’s equally important we are more open about bowel cancer because there is an element of embarrassment about the disease that could be leading to unnecessary deaths, regardless of any screening programme.

“It should no longer be a taboo subject and sampling can literally save lives - potentially thousands per year.

“I will be writing to the local Clinical Commissioning Group to see what it is doing to encourage people to present for screening if they believe they may have symptoms as this is also a crucial tool in the fight against this terrible disease.”

Lauren added, “Bowel cancer screening saves lives – it’s simple as that. It can detect the early stages of cancer, often before symptoms are showing.

“There are really two key numbers that matter – 97 per cent and seven per cent.”

Lauren explained, “Of everyone who is diagnosed with stage one bowel cancer, 97 per cent survive for at least five years. For all those diagnosed at stage four – only seven per cent survive for five years.

“What more proof is needed that early diagnosis is vital in the fight against this disease?”

The 25-year-old’s mother Fiona died of the disease in March 2015, at the age of just 56, just 4 months after being diagnosed.

On the anniversary of that diagnosis in December, Lauren launched the petition which, within just six weeks grew to 70,000, and currently stands at almost 75,000.

The online petition can be found at:www.change.org/p/jeremy-hunt-secretary-of-state-for-health-lower-the-age-for-bowel-cancer-screening-in-england-to-50.

Lauren completed her actor training in 2012. She has a particular interest in theatre and loves performing classical and Shakespearean plays.

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