More Australians screening earlier for bowel cancer

21 June, 2015

New figures released as part of National Bowel Cancer Awareness month show a three per cent increase during the previous year in the number of Australians returning completed bowel cancer screening kits.

Minister for Health Sussan Ley said the fact that 70 per cent of Australians who had previously been screened in the programme returned their kits the second time was particularly encouraging.

However Ley said it remained concerning that only 36 per cent of Australians returned a completed bowel cancer screening kit.

Ley said Australians most at risk of bowel cancer would have access to more frequent screening 14 years ahead of schedule. This is part of the Abbott Government's $95.9 million commitment to deliver an expanded bowel cancer screening programme to save more lives.

"Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in Australian with approximately 80 Australian dying each week," Ley said.

"With participation rates up by around three per cent on the previous year, it's clear the stigma with bowel cancer was beginning to get through but there was still a long way to go," Ley said.

Ley launched the 'a gift for living' bowel cancer screening awareness campaign earlier this year that, once fully rolled out, could potentially save up to 500 lives each year."

Ley said Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world.

"The kit is simple and discreet to use in the privacy of your own home. We need more people completing their testing kits as bowel cancer often has no symptoms and early detection saves lives," Ley said.

"The risk of bowel cancer increases from the age of 50, however if detected early and managed nine-out-of-ten cases can be successfully treated.

"I encourage everyone to complete and return their bowel cancer screening kit when they receive it as the more Australians that are screened, the more lives that will be saved."

The Abbott Government invested an additional $95.9 million to ensure Australians aged 50 to 74 would receive a free, at home bowel cancer screening kit every two years by 2020. In addition, the 'a gift for living' awareness campaign launched earlier this year ensures Australians who receive a bowel screening invitation are aware of its importance.