The Australian Government’s “revitalised” National Bowel Cancer Screening Program could save 90,000 Australian lives over the next four decades if at least 60% of eligible people participate in the program, Cancer Council Australia says.
Director of Public Policy at Cancer Council Australia, Paul Grogan, commended the Australian Government on its new communications strategy aimed at promoting the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, which he says is already saving Australian lives.
“Right now there are tens of thousands of Australians walking around with a precancerous polyp or an early-stage cancer in their bowel who have no indication that this threat to their life is slowly growing inside them,” Grogan says.
“The best way for people who are eligible for the screening program to reduce their risk of late-stage bowel cancer is to complete the free screening test when it arrives in the post.
“This year, all Australians aged 70 and 74 will get a free bowel cancer screening test mailed to them, joining those aged 50, 55, 60 and 65 who are already included in the program.
The faecal occult blood test is free, quick and easy, and the results are sent to the consumer’s nominated GP. Thousands of Australians have already had potentially cancerous polyps and early-stage bowel cancers detected and treated successfully as a result of completing the test.
“Our own peer-reviewed research shows the program would prevent 70,000 bowel cancer deaths over the next 40 years with a 40% participation rate – which we could get up to 90,000 lives saved if 60% of eligible Australians participate,” Grogan says.
Mr Grogan said the Government should be commended for revitalising the program with its communications strategy and the incremental inclusion of new age groups over the next four years. By 2020 all Australians aged 50 to 74 will be invited to screen, every two years.
“Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer of Australians, which is particularly tragic when more than 90% of cases can be cured if detected early,” he says.