WORCESTER bowel cancer survivor Barbara Moss and her husband Mark are putting their full support behind a campaign to drop the age when people can be screened for the disease by the NHS.

The current age in England when people are invited to take part in the countrywide screening programme is 60.

But Barbara, who was diagnosed with stage 4 – the final stage - bowel cancer (also known as colorectal cancer) in 2006 and paid for her own treatment because the drug she wanted was not available on the NHS, believes many more people could survive the condition if it was picked up earlier.

After being treated with the drug Avastin, Barbara’s tumour shrank and became operable so she was able to have it surgically removed at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.

Her experiences inspired her to try and do something about what she felt was an unfair system of denying people life-saving treatment on the NHS. She campaigns for greater access to cancer drugs on the NHS and greater patient involvement in their own treatment.

The mother of two from Aconbury Close, Worcester, and her husband joined a number of others supporting a campaign by Lauren Backler, whose mum died of colon cancer just three months after being diagnosed aged 56.

They delivered a petition with 450,000 signatures to the Department of Health asking for the screening age to be lowered to 50.

Barbara said: “Lauren’s mum died at the age of 56 from colon cancer, just three months after her diagnosis. Had she been screened at the age of 50, she would have had a chance of three screening tests. She may still be alive and Lauren believes that she would still have her mum.

“I was diagnosed late with colorectal cancer at the age of 52. I had visited my GP with all the symptoms at the age of 46 but I was misdiagnosed repeatedly. Had I been screened at the age of 50, maybe my cancer would not have developed to stage 4 when it was very difficult to treat and only a five per cent chance of survival.”

The campaigners, who are supported by the Bowel Cancer UK charity, want England’s screening to be brought in line with Scotland where the age for screening has been lowered to 50 and it uses a new type of test which is considered more reliable than the one used in England.

Anyone aged 60 or over in England is invited to use a test (guaiac faecal occult blood test) which is designed to detect small amounts of blood in poo. The new test being used in Scotland (faecal immunochemical test) is easier to use and more accurate.

Barbara said: “This is a much simpler test as it only requires one sample and is far more accurate, picking up earlier signs of colon cancer. Inevitably, this saves lives and money as it prevents the cancer developing into something that is far more difficult and expensive to treat.”

According to Bowel Cancer UK, around 16,000 people die from cancer each year, making it the UK’s second biggest cancer killer.

Barbara concluded: “This was an emotional and also a very happy day for all of us as we felt that we were truly achieving something worthwhile. It is also very rewarding to be working so closely on something that has affected all our lives.”