PEOPLE living in Rossendale are less likely to die from bowel cancer than those living anywhere else in the UK, new figures have shown.

And they are half as likely to die from bowel cancer as those living in the rest of East Lancashire.

The Beating Bowel Cancer charity said reasons for the discrepancy included low uptake of screening in some areas and a lack of awareness of symptoms.

Calls have now been made to look at why the Rossendale figures are so low and whether lessons can be learnt about how screening services are delivered in the borough.

According to the charity the worst area in the UK was Glasgow, with a rate of 31 people per 100,000 dying per year from the disease, while the best was Rossendale, where there were nine deaths per 100,000.

The data, based on 2008 figures provided by the UK Cancer Information Service, showed that the average number of deaths was 17.27.

Burnley recorded a score of 17, but the Ribble Valley with 19, Pendle with 19, Blackburn with Darwen with 20 and Hyndburn with 23 were all above the English average.

The charity’s chief executive Mark Flannagan said: “Too many people are dying from bowel cancer, no matter where they live.

“Deaths from bowel cancer could, and should, be much less common.

“Early diagnosis is key so today we are calling on people to take responsibility for their bowel cancer risk.”

He called the regional figures “intriguing”, and said that more must be done to improve survival rates.

Shahida Hanif, a bowel cancer specialist working for Lancashire Public Health Network, said the discrepancy between areas was down to awareness and whether people were using free test kits, which look for hidden traces of blood in stools.

She said: “The communities know about bowel cancer, maybe they are going to the doctors earlier, it’s being picked up earlier, and that is the key thing.

“However, in some areas of Lancashire we’re down to 20 per cent uptake of the kits.”

Possible symptoms of bowel cancer include bleeding, abdominal pain and lumps in the belly.

To access the charity’s map visit the website below.