Bowel Cancer Outcomes in Rural Yorkshire to be Tackled with £118,000 Investment

11 January 2018

Yorkshire Cancer Research will invest £118,000 in a new two-year project to improve the early diagnosis of bowel cancer in rural areas of Yorkshire.

People living in rural areas are more likely to get bowel cancer and less likely to survive it. Incidence and mortality rates in areas such as Scarborough & Ryedale, Vale of York, Airedale, Wharfedale & Craven and Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Groups are significantly higher than the national average1.

In addition, a higher proportion of bowel cancer patients in rural areas are diagnosed at a late stage. In England as a whole, 50% of bowel cancers are diagnosed at a late stage, but this is higher in areas such as Scarborough & Ryedale CCG (57%)2.

Researchers, led by Dr Christina Dobson at the Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, will interview patients living in rural areas of North Yorkshire to understand their experiences of bowel cancer symptoms and their management of, and responses to, these symptoms.

They will then discuss their findings with local residents, community organisations and representatives from the CCGs, public health and primary care practices during ‘village hall meetings’, working collaboratively to identify potential barriers and solutions to accessing healthcare.

Dr Dobson said: “It is unclear why bowel cancer is diagnosed at a later stage in rural areas, however, it is plausible that factors associated with rural living may influence how people experience and respond to symptoms. How and when rural people manage and seek help for symptoms of bowel cancer, along with how they negotiate the reporting of these symptoms to their GP, may affect the length of time it takes for a cancer to be diagnosed.

“Understanding these factors will enable us to co-design an intervention to encourage people to see their GPs earlier, which will in turn increase their likelihood of being diagnosed at an early stage and subsequently their chances of successful treatment.”

Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “It is important to recognise that Yorkshire is an extremely diverse county. This can often lead to very specific, local inequalities in cancer outcomes, and this is where a regional charity like Yorkshire Cancer Research can really make a difference.

“The experiences of people living in the countryside can be very different to those of people living in urban areas. This research will play a vital role in understanding those differences and developing solutions to ensure more people survive cancer. We are very proud to be funding this project and would like to thank all our supporters for making this investment possible.”

The project is part of a £3.6m investment by the charity in research that will improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer across Yorkshire.



  2. NCIN, Stage Data by CCG 2016,


Nikki Brady, Senior PR Officer, Yorkshire Cancer Research. Tel: 01423 877228. Email:

Notes to Editors

  • Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England (Registered Charity 516898). We are not part of a national charity.
  • We are committed to reducing the devastating impact of cancer on the lives of people living in Yorkshire.
  • Our mission is to work in partnership, fund research and support initiatives that will help people in Yorkshire avoid, survive and cope with cancer.
  • Current statistics show that 575 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week. Incidence and mortality rates are higher than the England average due to social deprivation, post-industrialisation and lifestyle choices but also availability of healthcare services and difficulties accessing early diagnostics, clinical trials and the latest treatments.
  • We aim to:
    • Be the leading authority on cancer in Yorkshire, understanding the problems and priorities in the region and sharing knowledge with partners.
    • Raise awareness of cancer and how to prevent it by working in local communities, schools and colleges, sports clubs and with other health-related organisations.
    • Promote screening programmes and fund research that can improve the diagnosis of cancer so we can detect and treat it at the earliest opportunity.
    • Invest in innovative research projects at every stage of a cancer patient's journey.
    • Campaign for fair and equal access to the very best healthcare services and a greater share of the money spent nationally on research.
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