Record numbers having bowel cancer checks following death of Dame Deborah James

Record numbers of people are having bowel cancer checks following the death of campaigner Dame Deborah James.

Dame Deborah, a mother of two, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and kept her one million Instagram followers updated on her treatments.

Alongside Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland, she launched the You, Me And The Big C podcast in 2018.

She continued raising awareness until her death on 28 June at the age of 40.

According to the NHS, between the months of May and July, 170,500 people were referred for checks for suspected lower gastro-intestinal cancers.

That number is an increase of more than 30,000 compared to the same period in 2021, and nearly 80,000 higher than the same period two years ago.

Figures also showed referrals for bowel cancer hit a record high in the second week of July, shortly after Dame Deborah's death, up 60% on pre-pandemic levels.

Read more:
Dame Deborah James's husband shares details of her 'incredibly peaceful' last moments
Podcaster and cancer campaigner passes away aged 40

The number of visitors to the NHS website checking symptoms of the disease was also up by almost 200,000 in the last three months.

National cancer director Dame Cally Palmer said: "Thanks to the brave and relentless campaigning of Dame Deborah James, bowel cancer has come to the forefront of a national conversation on catching cancer as early as possible, and the fact that we have seen record numbers of people coming forward for bowel cancer checks shows people are taking the illness seriously and speaking to their GPs about it.

"It is so important that we continue the work of Dame Deborah to raise awareness of bowel cancer and save more lives, so to anyone who has noticed symptoms, please do come forward."

Genevieve Edwards, chief executive at Bowel Cancer UK, says: "People visiting has never been higher, with tens of thousands more people seeking information about the symptoms of the disease since Dame Deborah James' tragic death.

"There was also a spike in people affected by bowel cancer posting on our forum, contacting our Ask the Nurse service and we know that people have visited their GP as a result of hearing her story."