Stephen's father in diagnosis plea
A campaign to tackle bowel cancer has been backed by a panel of medical experts as well as the father of Stephen Sutton, the fundraising teenager who died from the disease.
Bowel Cancer UK is calling for better diagnosis and treatment for people under the age of 50 who are at higher risk of developing the disease.
The initiative is focused on Lynch syndrome, an inherited condition which gives people a 72% higher risk of developing bowel cancer during their lifetime.
According to the charity t here are more than 1,000 cases of bowel cancer a year that are attributable to the syndrome, yet fewer than 5% of families with the condition in the UK have been identified.
The campaign is supported by several medical experts including Dr Kevin Monahan, consultant gastroenterologist at the family history of bowel cancer clinic at London's West Middlesex University Hospital, and Professor Sue Clark, chairwoman of the colorectal section of the British Society of Gastroenterology.
It has also been backed by Stephen's father Andy Sutton, who has been diagnosed with bowel cancer twice.
It was only after the second diagnosis in 2009 that he was tested for Lynch syndrome.
He said: " Since then, I've discovered that because of my Lynch syndrome diagnosis, I should be having a colonoscopy every two years. Yet this has been difficult to organise and I am still only being offered it every three years.
"If I had been genetically tested after the first diagnosis and given regular surveillance screening, it might have been possible to have prevented bowel cancer developing second time around, which would have been welcome as the second diagnosis was a terrible shock and the treatment much harder than the first time."
His son raised millions of pounds for the Teenage Cancer Trust before his death aged 19 in May.
Mr Sutton said: " I noticed Stephen wasn't well when he was 15 and as his symptoms continued he must have gone to the doctors about five times and the hospital on three or four occasions.
"We kept telling them about my Lynch diagnosis, we even gave them a leaflet on it, but it was totally dismissed.
"Everyone thought that Stephen was too young to get bowel cancer and you want to believe what you're told by the medical profession, yet everyone now knows how wrong we all were."