Cancer Council wants local communities to 'get behind it'

Monday 26 March, 2012
  • Funding for free bowel cancer screening vital in the 2012-13 Federal Budget
  • Screening men and women aged 50+ every two years has the potential to save 30 lives every week in Australia

Cancer Council Victoria is asking local communities to send a letter to their local Federal MP as part of the Get Behind Bowel Screening campaign to help save lives from Australia‟s second biggest cancer killer.

The latest phase of the campaign, launched in Canberra earlier this month, aims to convince the Federal Government to expand the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) which currently provides free bowel cancer testing kits to 50, 55 and 65-year-olds. Cancer Council is campaigning for funds to be set aside in the 2012-13 Federal Budget to expand the program.

Cancer Council Victoria Screening Programs Manager Kate Broun said bowel cancer screening, every two years was vital for all Australians aged 50 and older.

"Early-stage bowel cancer often has no symptoms and screening is a way to detect the 'invisible' signs of bowel cancer," Ms Broun said.

Many people were unaware they had bowel cancer until symptoms appeared meaning the cancer was at a much later stage and harder to cure, she said.

"Early detection is vital because 90% of bowel cancers are curable if found at an early stage," Ms Broun said.

"Bowel cancer screening not only saves lives, but also it means men and women do not have to endure costly and painful treatments for advanced bowel cancer.

"The current National Program which offers tests to only three age groups, misses men and women who are often most in need of screening," Ms Broun said.

Nationally, more than 14,000 men and women are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year and more than 4000 die.

With a large number of these diagnoses (3,699) in Victoria in 2010, Ms Broun urged Victorian communities to send a letter to their local Federal MP to ensure free screening was available to all Australians aged 50 and over.

"Cancer Council is campaigning to have two age groups added immediately to the National Program - 60 and 70 year olds - with the other age groups added over the next few years so all men and women 50 and over will be offered screening every two years," Ms Broun said.

"We need you to Get Behind It," she said. "We have already had the support of the three Independent MPs in Canberra, we now need the support of the community here at home to let the Government know expanding the NBCSP will save lives."

"I urge Victorians to visit our Get Behind Bowel Screening website and send a letter to their Federal MP."

Quick bowel cancer facts:

  • Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in Australia and claims the lives of more than 70 Australian men and women each week.
  • Bowel cancer screening tests are called Faecal Occult Blood Tests (FOBTs) and detect blood in bowel motions which may be the early signs of bowel cancer.
  • 1330 Victorians died from bowel cancer in 2010 - more than a quarter of the national average of deaths from bowel cancer.
  • 90% of bowel cancers are curable if detected at an early stage - bowel cancer screening tests, designed to pick up signs of early-stage bowel cancer, are quick, simple and cheap tests able to be done at home.
More on the Federal Budget submission by Cancer Council.