Eighty percent of bowel cancer patients in England and Wales who have had major surgery are still alive two years after diagnosis versus 43% of patients who haven’t, data published this morning shows.

According to the National Bowel Cancer Audit, published today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), across England and Wales two-year mortality for bowel cancer patients undergoing major surgery was found to be 24%. 

But interestingly, and unexpectedly, the analysis of data for almost 32,000 bowel cancer patients diagnosed in 2012-13 showed that Wales had a higher than expected adjusted two-year death rate at 27.5%, although a key factor in this may be the lack of detailed data to further refine the estimate, the HSCIC said, and promised to investigate the difference further.

There was also significant variation in the percentage of patients still in hospital five days after resection, which could have significant consequences for hospital expenditure in the NHS, and offers insight into how practice might influence outcomes, says audit clinical lead Nigel Scot, also Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust.

Emergency admission with colorectal cancer remained flat at 21% of all cases.