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Europacolon launches first CRC awareness month

Europacolon has launched the first colorectal cancer awareness month today amid claims that current management strategies for the disease are failing patients.

Europacolon has launched the first colorectal cancer (CRC) awareness month today amid claims that current management strategies for the disease are failing patients.

The pan-European patient group, Europacolon, is dedicated to preventing CRC-related deaths and improving quality of life for sufferers of the disease.

Former EU Health Commissioner, Markos Kyprianou, said: "It is our responsibility to ensure the EU cares for its citizens."

"The launch of the first European CRC awareness month (ECCAM) will ensure Europe's second biggest cancer killer is at the top of the health agenda," he added.

Over 400,000 people in Europe are diagnosed with CRC, which accounts for the second highest number of cancer fatalities, each year, but awareness of the disease is still relatively low.

Jola Gore-Booth, founder of Europacolon, said: "There is still considerable lack of knowledge and embarrassment surrounding the condition and many people do not recognise the symptoms or do not act upon them."

Although highly treatable if diagnosed early, over half of all CRC patients do not survive.

Europacolon says in addition to raising awareness of the disease across Europe, the number of CRC-related deaths could be cut by 50 per cent by 2020 if more positive action is taken now.

Kyprianou said: "We need effective screening and early detection programmes to enable prompt diagnosis and treatment to reduce the overall burden of colorectal cancer in the European population."

A study conducted by a team at the London School of Economics (LSE) showed a considerable inequality in the standards of care offered for CRC with survival rates varying from country to country.

Professor Panos Kanvos, who lead the LSE team, said: "Europe is lagging behind the US in its attitudes to the management of this disease and it is time that we stood together to call for more stringent strategies."

The launch of ECCAM was marked by an exhibition at the European Parliament, which included a 20ft long and 8ft high inflatable, walk-through colon.

The exhibition, which is sponsored by MEP Robert Sturdy, provides people with a unique interactive educational experience for learning about CRC.

Sturdy said: "Too many people currently die of this potentially highly treatable disease, and it is our responsibility to ensure that patients are not left alone in their struggle against CRC."

5th March 2008

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