The last Wednesday of September every year is World Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Day. A day dedicated to raising awareness of the most advanced form of colorectal cancer, known as metastatic colorectal cancer; this is when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs.

Each year there are 1.4 million new cases and 694,000 deaths from colorectal cancer. Many of these deaths are caused because the disease is detected too late. Approximately 20% of people across Europe and the US are diagnosed when the cancer has spread and even more go on to develop metastatic colorectal cancer after having been diagnosed at an earlier stage. Regardless of where you live in the world, people diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer have no more than a 1 in 10 chance of surviving more than five years.

However, with timely access to effective treatment and high quality care, people with metastatic disease can see their survival chances and their quality of life dramatically improve. But for too many patients, access to treatment is dependent on whether they have adequate insurance or if their public health system has approved specific treatments, rather than what their doctors and healthcare providers believe would benefit them most.

To coincide with this important day, Bowel Cancer Australia, Bowel Cancer UK, Colon Cancer Alliance (US), Colorectal Cancer Canada, EuropaColon (Europe), Fight Colorectal Cancer (US) and Fondation A.R.CA.D. (France) have come together to launch the global Get Personal Campaign to make real change happen for people with advanced colorectal cancer.

Since launching the campaign in 2016 the Get Personal partners have been working in each nation to raise the profile of metastatic colorectal cancer and bring to the fore the key issues that affect people with the disease and what can be done to overcome these.

In the UK, Bowel Cancer UK has published a comprehensive report based on a survey of patients with metastatic disease. This report explores how the proportion of people diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer can be reduced, the importance of personalisation across the pathway and what support is necessary to enable patients and their family members to navigate a complicated treatment and care pathway.

In Australia, Bowel Cancer Australia continues to champion what matters most to patients affected by metastatic bowel (colorectal) cancer, including access to quality treatment and the best care, to ensure more patients live beyond bowel cancer.

Over the past 12 months, the charity has campaigned to improve symptom awareness and not delay in seeking medical advice for people experiencing symptoms; highlighted delayed diagnosis due to multiple GP visits, especially for young people, as well as significant delays in accessing colonoscopy.

Bowel Cancer Australia also highlighted the impact on cancer care coordination due to lack of bowel care nurses and continues to support greater access to treatment options based on biomarker status and informing patients through the addition of two resources – Support for You - What Matters Most and Advanced Bowel Cancer - Biomarker Testing & Precision Medicine

Across Europe, Europa Colon is carrying out a patient experience survey to better understand the needs of metastatic colorectal cancer patients. To learn more about this survey and take part, click here. The survey is available in many European languages.

In Canada and the US, Colorectal Cancer Canada and Fight Colorectal Cancer are both focussing on increasing access to and the importance of biomarker testing. Biomarkers help to identify which patients are genetic characteristics of a tumour, which can signify whether a treatment will be more effective in patients with that specific gene. Find out more about biomarkers.

Get Personal aims to increase survival rates, improve quality of life and reduce variation in access to best treatment and care for people living with metastatic colorectal cancer around the world.

We are committed to:

  • Eliminating variation between and within countries so that everyone, irrespective of where they live, has access to the best treatment and care.
  • Putting metastatic colorectal cancer firmly on the agenda of governments, health care providers and key decision-makers.
  • Campaigning for further research to address gaps in knowledge and support the development of new, innovative and effective treatments.
  • Raising awareness among patients, clinicians and policy-makers of the full range of tests and treatments to be made available.

By campaigning together and learning from each other, we know we can make a difference. Colorectal cancer does not recognise borders, and neither do we.

For more information on the campaign and to find out how to take part visit the Get Personal website