Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers; every year in the UK around 42,000 receive a bowel cancer diagnosis. For individuals and families involved, that news can be shocking and traumatic but if bowel cancer is identified at an early stage, the prognosis these days is in fact very good. Early diagnosis is key – thanks to better detection and treatment, deaths from bowel/colon cancer are in decline – down by 44% since statistics were first gathered in the 1970s.
Decades of work from a small, local charity has made a big impact on this national picture. Based at the Royal Surrey NHS Trust, GUTS was established in 1983 by Professor Chris Marks.
Professor Marks was working as a consultant colorectal surgeon at the time. He was distressed that too many patients came to him at a point where there was little he could do to save or even prolong their lives. With the help of family, friends and colleagues, he set about forming the charity. Its aim was to improve bowel cancer survival and this could only be done by improving detection of the disease at an early stage.
With numerous volunteers fundraising in and around Surrey, GUTS was soon on a sound financial footing and in a position to establish a local screening programme for bowel cancer, initially funding screening for 20,000 patients through 37 GP surgeries. That service continued until it was absorbed into the National Bowel Cancer Programme in 2006, which was set up with expert input from another GUTS trustee, Professor Stephen Halloran. The national programme offers screening to everyone aged 60 -74 and the charity strongly encourages people to take advantage of this service.
Today the charity continues to offer screening to younger people at a higher risk of bowel cancer due to their family history, through the GUTS Colon Cancer Family Clinic. The charity also funds equipment and facilities at the Royal Surrey and supports numerous research projects.
Find out more about GUTS and bowel cancer at www.gutsfbc.co.uk. You can make a donation via the website or by sending it to the charity at GUTS Fundraising, Level A, Royal Surrey NHS Trust, Egerton Road, Guildford GU2 7XX. To register for the GUTS Motor Tour 2022, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.