Bowel cancer charity to fight ‘postcode lottery’

Beating Bowel Cancer has secured Prime Minister Tony Blair’s backing for a campaign to end what it calls the ‘postcode lottery’ for treatment of the disease.

The campaign, which kicks off next Monday as part of the charity’s Loud Tie annual awareness week, aims to ensure everyone in the UK has an equal chance of surviving bowel cancer.

The charity will publish research showing that survival rates vary by up to 20 per cent across regions of the UK.

‘There are variations in the treatment available in different places,’ said Beating Bowel Cancer chief executive Hilary Whittaker. ‘Patients should have access to the best treatment, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay.’

Blair’s backing – details of which remain under wraps – follows the Government’s pledge of £37.5m for England’s first bowel cancer screening programme.

The campaign is also endorsed by Countdown presenter Richard Whiteley. The charity will ‘remove the stigma associated with bowel cancer’ by encouraging the public to gain sponsorship for wearing ‘flamboyant’ and ‘loud’ neckwear in the style of Whiteley.

It is targeting schools, offices and communities with ideas about how to get involved in the fundraising initiative.

Regional newspapers will be informed about survival rates in their local areas, while politicians will be lobbied to wear ‘loud ties’ and support the charity’s Early Day Motion to abolish the so-called postcode lottery for treatment.

Bowel cancer is the second-biggest cancer killer in the UK.

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