Bowel Cancer Awareness Month: early detection can save lives

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During Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, Cancer Australia is raising public awareness of bowel cancer, the second most common cancer in both men and women in Australia.

Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world, with approximately 17,000 people expected to be diagnosed this year. 

“Evidence shows that the disease can be treated successfully if detected in its early stages, however fewer than 40 per cent of bowel cancers are detected early”, Cancer Australia CEO, Professor Helen Zorbas said.

To help reduce the impact of the disease, Cancer Australia is drawing attention to three key actions that individuals can do to reduce the impact of bowel cancer on our community.  

Participate in screening

Participation in the bowel cancer screening is vital to reducing deaths from this cancer.

 “Bowel cancer is potentially one of the most preventable cancers through the early detection of abnormalities from screening.” Professor Zorbas said.

Currently, Australians aged 50, 55, 60 and 65 are eligible for the free screening program. People aged 70 and 74 will be invited to participate next year. 

Cancer Australia welcomes the recent announcement by the Federal Government of an additional $95.9 million in funding for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program which, by 2020, will provide free bowel cancer screening every two years for people aged 50 to 74.

Make positive lifestyle changes

“Many people are not aware that there are ways they can reduce their risk of bowel cancer. Maintaining a healthy body weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol intake and not smoking, all reduce risk of developing bowel cancer.” Professor Zorbas said.

Know the symptoms

“It’s important to know and act on the symptoms of bowel cancer to detect it early.” Professor Zorbas said.

Symptoms of bowel cancer include blood in bowel motions, changes in bowel habit, severe constipation, diarrhea or needing to go to the toilet more than usual, unexplained tiredness, weight loss for no known reason, and abdominal pain or bloating.

While these symptoms may be due to other conditions, it’s important to see a doctor to be sure.

For more information on bowel cancer, please visit:

Media contact:
Simon Thomas (02) 9357 9401 or 0438 209 833