AIHW report shows importance of screening and lifestyle choices

Making healthy lifestyle choices and taking part in bowel cancer screening could save your life, according to a first-of-its-kind report on digestive-tract cancers.

Colorectal and other digestive-tract cancers was released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Digestive-tract cancers are a major cause of illness and death in Australia, accounting for about two in 10 of all cancers diagnosed and nearly three in 10 cancer deaths.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said the findings from the report can be translated into a number of health recommendations.

“Today’s report reinforces not only the relationship between cancer state at diagnosis and survival prospects – but the real impact lifestyle behaviours have on the overall burden of digestive-tract cancers,” Ms McMillan said.

“For example, when it comes to bowel cancer – the most commonly diagnosed digestive-tract cancer – those who were diagnosed while the cancer was at stage one had a five-year survival rate of 99 [er cent, whereas for those diagnosed at the most advanced, this was just 13 per cent.

“These figures reinforce the benefits of early diagnosis – and therefore the importance of screening programs – and the critical need to find better treatments to ensure more lives are not cut short when cancer is found at a later stage.

“In terms of risk factors, those that attributed to the most burden were tobacco use, high body mass and excessive alcohol use.

“Of particular note, 54 per cent of oesophageal cancer burden was due to tobacco use, while 40 per cent of liver cancer burden was due to alcohol use.

“These results are a wake-up call for all of us to do what we can to avoid preventable chronic disease.

“To aid with prevention, Queenslanders are encouraged to take steps to quit smoking, reduce alcohol intake, be physically active and eat a balanced diet for optimum health and wellbeing long-term.

“Talk to your GP about necessary check-ups and screenings and consult your doctor if you notice any changes in your overall health.”

In Australia, bowel cancer is estimated to make up almost 6 in 10 digestive-tract cancers. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program provides a free screening kit to eligible Australians aged between 50-74 to complete in the privacy of their own home.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland, including healthy lifestyle resources and screening recommendations, is available at

The full AIHW report is available at

For more information on the report, visit the AIHW website here.
For interviews with Cancer Council Queensland representatives, please contact:
Lisa Maynard,
Manager, Public Relations and Social Media
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5171
Mobile: 0488 015 702