A "MIRACLE" bowel cancer survivor and former Worcester schoolteacher says she is under no illusion that cancer patients have been neglected during the pandemic.

The one-year survival rate for bowel cancer patients in Herefordshire and Worcestershire has improved according to the latest figures.

But Bowel Cancer UK has warned that survival levels across England could drop to those of a decade ago as a result of disruption during the pandemic, which has had "devastating consequences" for some patients.

Barbara Moss of Worcester was given just three months to live and began to plan her funeral when diagnosed with bowel cancer in November 2006. However, Mrs Moss has now been cancer free for the last 12 years, defying medical experts to survive and thrive against the odds.

She has now dedicated her life to raising awareness of Bowel Cancer, advocating for patients and trying to find a cure.

She said of the recent figures: "The fact that survivorship has increased is really very welcomed, however we know very well it would have been considerably higher had screening and consultations not been stopped or delayed.

“Some patients were frightened to go to hospitals for such things, I do not believe there was enough done to separate those with serious illnesses in hospital and those with Covid-19 and that’s something that needs to be looked at in the future.

“Patients should never again have to be neglected like they were.”

Public Health England figures show adults aged between 15 and 99 in the NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire CCG area had an 82.7% chance of surviving for one year following a bowel cancer diagnosis in 2018 – the most recent year available.

This was up slightly from 82.6% the year before, and a vast improvement on 73.7% in 2003, when such records began.

Herefordshire and Worcestershire patients have survival rates higher than the 80.7% average across England.

Chief executive of Bowl Cancer UK, Genevieve Edwards, said the disease is treatable and curable if diagnosed early, but almost half a million people in England are still waiting for a test to confirm if they have it.

She said: "Delays like this can lead to poorer outcomes for bowel cancer patients and potentially cost lives.

"The Government must increase endoscopy capacity in the NHS by providing urgent multi-year investment to grow its workforce, provide new equipment and improve pathways to bring waiting times under control, which will ultimately save more lives.

"We know that NHS staff continue to work incredibly hard to keep cancer services going, but the severe disruption over the last 12 months has led to many people having their treatment delayed or cancelled, sometimes with devastating consequences."

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, in April, is an annual campaign to increase the public's understanding of the UK’s second biggest cancer killer.