Advisers and consumers have been reminded of the need for protection against the financial impact of cancer in spite of welcome figures that show some improving survival rates.

Scott Cadger, head of underwriting and claims strategy at Scottish Widows, said that while survival rates from the condition have improved over the years, too many individuals are still unaware of the need to ensure their finances are protected should the unexpected happen.

Cadger (pictured) made the comments to mark Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in April.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 12% of all new cases and the disease claims the lives of 44 people across the nation every day, according to Cancer Research UK.

Survival is improving and has more than doubled in the last 40 years. In the 1970s, more than a fifth of people diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK survived their disease beyond ten years; now it’s almost six in 10. When diagnosed at its earliest stage, more than nine in 10 people will survive for five years or more, Cancer Research UK says.

But Cadger warned that Scottish Widows’ own Protection Report from 2016 shows that with an estimated one in five (21%) households admitting they would be unable to survive financially if they unexpectedly lost their income due to long-term illness, and almost two in five (38%) admitting that their savings would last just a couple of months, there are concerns over the nation’s financial resilience should the unexpected happen.

Cadger said that Scottish Widows paid out more than £5.7m in critical illness (CI) claims relating to bowel cancer in 2015, which accounted for 11% of all cancer-related CI claims that year. The company’s data shows that the average age of diagnosis for bowel cancer among males in 2015 was 54, while the average age for females was 50. During 2015, two thirds (67%) of claimants were male.

According to research from Macmillan Cancer Support, an estimated 700,000 people with cancer of all age groups are vulnerable because they have no savings to fall back on, Cadger said.

He said: “Our own research shows that fewer than one in 10 of the population have CI insurance, and only a third have life cover. It’s for all of us to ensure we have an appropriate plan in place to protect our finances, in the event of the unexpected happening.”

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