Bowel cancer rates among men have risen by nearly 30% in the last 35 years, while women have seen an increase of only 6%, according to a new report from Cancer Research UK.

The rates have climbed from 45 cases per 100,000 men in 1975-77 to 58 cases in 2008-10 - an overall rise of 29 per cent. But in women cases have only increased very slightly from 35 to 37 per 100,000 in the same time period.

The largest rise in those diagnosed with the disease has been among people in their 60s and 70s, with more than 23,000 now diagnosed each year. The reasons for this rise, and the difference between men and women, are unknown.

But despite the rise in incidence among men, bowel cancer survival is improving year on year, with half of all patients living for at least 10 years after a diagnosis.

The new statistics are released as The Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK launches a new awareness and fundraising campaign, ‘Make Bobby Proud’, during bowel cancer awareness month this April.

Professor Matthew Seymour, professor of gastrointestinal cancer medicine at the University of Leeds and director of the National Cancer Research Network, said: “We know the risk of bowel cancer increases as we get older and, since we’re all living longer, it’s no surprise to see that the number of people getting the disease is rising.

“But when we look at these figures and take people’s age into account, we still see that the risk of bowel cancer has gone up in men in the last 35 years. It’s important to find out what’s behind the rise and what we can do about it.

“The good news is that, thanks to research, we have seen huge improvements in bowel cancer survival over the last 40 years. It’s this research that’s led to better drugs to treat the disease, improved surgical techniques, the use of more radiotherapy and the introduction of bowel screening to spot the disease earlier, when it is most effectively treated.”

Stephanie Moore, MBE, founded the Bobby Moore Fund after Bobby died of bowel cancer in 1993.

Stephanie said: “It’s good to see that despite the rise in incidence, bowel cancer survival is improving. However, it’s vital we continue to fund research to fight this disease as these new statistics show.

“Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK, after lung cancer. Finding a way to beat bowel cancer has been my goal for the past two decades and my hope is that by increasing awareness and helping to fund Cancer Research UK’s vital research, many more lives can be saved from this terrible disease in the future.

“This is why we’re launching Make Bobby Proud, and hope that with people’s support we can beat this disease once and for all.”