Queenslanders urged to take life-saving bowel test

Queenslanders aged 50 and over are being urged to screen for bowel cancer, with the launch of the state’s first ever TV campaign promoting the life-saving benefits of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Developed by Cancer Council with funding from the Australian Government, the campaign follows a federal budget announcement that the free screening program will be fully implemented by July 2020 and offered to everyone aged 50 and over, every two years.

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.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said bowel cancer was the state’s second biggest cancer killer, causing around 960 deaths per year, yet it was curable in around 90 per cent of cases if detected early.

“Only 3 in 10 eligible Queenslanders are completing the test, but even on those figures the program is set to prevent more than 14,000 bowel cancer deaths in the state over the next 40 years,” Ms Clift said.

“By increasing participation we would save many more lives.”

Ms Clift said that the ad would run over eight weeks and that on current trends, 450 Queenslanders would be diagnosed with bowel cancer during that period alone.

“Greater program participation would lead to more cases being found at an earlier stage when they are easiest to treat,” she said.

The ad features three Australians who have lost loved ones to bowel cancer.

“We are extremely grateful to Linda, Mark and Moira for speaking about their loss in the hope that similar tragedies can be avoided,” Ms Clift said.

“As with all cancers, it’s not just patients but grieving loved ones who can be profoundly affected.

“It can be even more devastating for a cancer like bowel cancer, which is easy to treat if found early.

“We now have a program that can detect early-stage cases, so it’s up to eligible Queenslanders to take the test and dramatically reduce their risk.”

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.

Queenslanders can call Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 for more information, or visit www.bowelcancer.org.au.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at www.cancerqld.org.au.