Only about one in three eligible Queenslanders completes the free National Bowel Cancer Screening test, even though bowel cancer kills nearly three Queenslanders every day.
In fact, bowel cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in Queensland – with 1 in 10 Queensland men and 1 in 13 Queensland women likely to be diagnosed before the age of 85.
More than 2900 new cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed every year in Queensland, and about 1000 Queenslanders die from the disease.
Many of these cases can be prevented, and if the cancer is detected early about 90 per cent of cases are curable – which is why it’s vitally important for those who are 50 years and over to be screened for bowel cancer every two years.
From this year, 70 and 74-year-olds will receive at-home bowel cancer screening kits in addition to people turning 50, 55, 60 or 65 as the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program continues to expand. Next year, the program will invite 72 and 64-year-olds. By 2020, all Australians aged 50-74 will be invited to participate in the program every two years.
In addition to screening, it’s important to be aware of changes in bowel habits and bodily functions.
Symptoms can include rectal bleeding such as blood in the stool, a change in bowel movements, lack of energy, unexplained weight loss or lack of appetite, and persistent cramping or abdominal pain.
While the presence of these symptoms does not necessarily mean a person has bowel cancer, the warning signs should not be ignored, and warrant urgent medical advice from a GP or specialist.
Although age is a major risk factor with bowel cancer, lifestyle factors, a personal or family history of bowel cancer, or the presence of inflammatory bowel disease can also increase risks of the disease.
Queenslanders can reduce their risks by adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as eating healthily and maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake and being active.
Please share this important message with your loved ones – early detection saves lives.
When you receive your free screening kit in the mail – take part. If we improve participation rates in Queensland we can save many lives.
Professor Jeff Dunn AO
CEO Cancer Council Queensland
To find out more about the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, phone the information line 1800 118 868 or visitwww.cancerscreening.gov.au.
For more information, please contact:
Kim Ryan, Senior Media Specialist, Cancer Council Queensland