Dame Deborah James' work in bringing awareness to bowel cancer has seen record numbers of people having checks for the disease, health bosses have said.

Also known by her social media handle Bowel Babe, Dame Deborah had been highlighting information about the disease until her death on June 28 at the age of 40.

According to the NHS, between the months of May and July, 170,500 people referred for checks for suspected lower gastro-intestinal cancers.

It is up over 30,000 compared to the same period in 2021, and nearly 80,000 higher than the same period two years ago.

Figures also showed referrals for bowel cancer hit an all-time high in the second week of July, shortly after Dame Deborah’s death, up 60% on pre-pandemic levels.

According to the NHS, between the months of May and July, 170,500 people referred for checks for suspected lower gastro-intestinal cancers (PA)Dame Deborah passed away in June at the age of 40 (PA)

The last three months also saw almost 200,000 more visitors to the NHS website to check symptoms of the disease.

National cancer director Dame Cally Palmer said: “Thanks to the brave and relentless campaigning of Dame Deborah James, bowel cancer has come to the forefront of a national conversation on catching cancer as early as possible, and the fact that we have seen record numbers of people coming forward for bowel cancer checks shows people are taking the illness seriously and speaking to their GPs about it.

“It is so important that we continue the work of Dame Deborah to raise awareness of bowel cancer and save more lives, so to anyone who has noticed symptoms, please do come forward.”

Genevieve Edwards, chief executive at Bowel Cancer UK, says: “People visiting bowelcanceruk.org.uk has never been higher, with tens of thousands more people seeking information about the symptoms of the disease since Dame Deborah James’ tragic death.

“There was also a spike in people affected by bowel cancer posting on our forum, contacting our Ask the Nurse service and we know that people have visited their GP as a result of hearing her story.”

According to the NHS, between the months of May and July, 170,500 people referred for checks for suspected lower gastro-intestinal cancers (PA)Referrals for bowel cancer checks are up 30,000 from the same period last year (PA)

In early May, Dame Deborah revealed she had stopped active treatment and was receiving end-of-life care at her parents’ home in Woking, Surrey, with her husband and their two children on hand.

The podcaster was diagnosed in 2016 and kept her one million Instagram followers up to date with her treatments.

Her candid posts about her progress and diagnosis, including videos of her dancing her way through treatment, won praise from the public and media alike.

Alongside Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland, she launched the You, Me And The Big C podcast in 2018.

She was made a dame, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying: “If ever an honour was richly deserved, this is it.”

Dame Deborah later said she felt “honoured and shocked” to be considered for the honour.