The number of people dying from bowel cancer in the UK has dropped more than 30 percent in the last 20 years, show new figures released by Cancer Research UK.

According to the data, bowel cancer caused 38 deaths per 100,000 people in 1995 versus 26 deaths per 100,000 people by 2015, which equates to a decrease in deaths from 17,600 to 15,800 (taking into account changing population figures).

It is believed that better treatment is the primary driver in the “dramatic drop” seen in bowel cancer mortality over the timeframe, the charity noted, but added that improved public awareness among both patients and doctors and screening could also have played a role.

“In my opinion GPs and patients are becoming more aware of bowel cancer symptoms and acting more quickly than in the past,” said Professor Matt Seymour, Cancer Research UK’s bowel cancer expert based at the University of Leeds.

“The national screening programme, introduced in 2006, means some cancers can be cured before they have caused any symptoms at all. And in our hospitals, better standards of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, imaging and pathology are all improving patients' chance of cure.”

In 2014, almost 41,300 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer of whom 22,844 were men and 18,421 women. While deaths from the disease continue to decline bowel cancer is still the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK.