My cancer would have been detected earlier in Scotland — George Alagiah

Monday, 26 Mar, 2018

The chance of living for at least five years for those with stage four bowel cancer is less than 10 per cent.

The News at Six presenter underwent 17 rounds of chemotherapy and five operations on the stage four cancer, which had spread to his liver and lymph nodes.

Alagiah, 62, learnt just before Christmas that the bowel cancer he had diagnosed four years ago had returned.

The BBC News anchor is is supporting the campaign by Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer to make cancer screening available to everyone in England from 50.

Mr Alagiah told the Sunday Times: "Had I been screened, I could have been picked up".

In Scotland men and women are automatically offered screening for bowel cancer every two years from the age of 50; in England it starts at 60.

Detailing his impassioned stance on the subject, George continued: "We know that if you catch bowel cancer early, survival rates are tremendous". But somehow, when you think you have made it well, I might still make it.The disappointment was pretty bad.

His agent, Mary Greenham, confirmed the cancer had returned in December 2017, as he underwent medical treatment for the recurrence.

He had noticed blood in his stools and, after a colonoscopy, a tumour was discovered on his bowel.

Of his outlook for the future, Alagiah said he was determined to remain positive, but admitted to having "wobbly moments", when he imagined his family "unit" without him.

At the time of his diagnosis in January, the newsreader said the return of his cancer had been 'harder for his family'.

"The first time you are just stunned and shocked", he said.

"I learned last time around how important the support of family and friends is and I am blessed in that department".

England is also behind Australia, where the Government's National Bowel Cancer Screening Program now provides a free faecal occult blood test (FOBT) kit and pathology to all Australians aged 50, 55, 60, 64, 65, 70, 72 and 74. I know what I have to do: stay calm, stay content, stay fit and let doctors do their best'.

Alagiah joined the BBC in 1989 and spent many years as one of the corporation's leading foreign correspondents before moving to presenting.

In a new interview with The Sunday Times, George revealed that had his cancer been caught sooner, he would face a better chance at surviving.

George lives in London with his wife of 33 years Frances, and the couple share two sons - Adam, 31, and Matt, 27.