Queenslanders over the age of 50 are risking their lives rather than taking a simple bowel cancer screening test, with a report released today finding 643,000 Australians threw away a free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program kit in 2012-13.
The findings have prompted Cancer Council Queensland to renew its call for all eligible Queenslanders to take the test when they receive it.
According to the AIHW report, national participation in the program fell to 33.5 per cent in 2012-2013.
The report found that of the 196,472 Queenslanders who received a test kit, only 63,253 completed the test.
Queensland (32.2%), New South Wales (31.2%) and Northern Territory (24.8%) had lower participation rates than all other jurisdictions, with Queensland’s participation consistently lower across different regions of the state.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said Queenslanders over the age of 50 who took the test would have much better prospects of detecting the deadly disease early and beating it.
“Bowel cancer was the state’s second biggest cancer killer, causing around 960 deaths per year.
“Bowel cancer is curable in around 90 per cent of cases if detected early,” Ms Clift said.
“This simple test can mean the difference between life and death, and we encourage all Queenslanders who receive a free screening kit in the mail this year to take part.
“We know the test is saving lives and reducing unnecessary treatment costs – and we can save more lives by boosting participation.
“Greater program participation in Queensland is essential. If we improve participation rates in our state we will find more cases at an earlier, more treatable stage, and improve survival rates.”
Currently Queenslanders aged 50, 55, 60 and 65 are invited to screen by completing a simple faecal occult blood test that can be done at home. People aged 70 and 74 will be invited next year, with the remaining gaps in program coverage filled by July 2020.
Screening kits are mailed to all eligible Queenslanders. People aged over 50 who currently fall outside the target group, or anyone concerned about bowel cancer, should talk to their GP about bowel cancer screening.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at www.cancerqld.org.au.
For interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland