Bowel cancer kills 4 times as many as road toll
For the first time, a new Victoria-wide bowel
screening campaign could see more than 20,000 additional Victorians screening
for bowel cancer, which can detect the disease at an early stage, even when
there are no symptoms and avoid the need for extended chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
The campaign – the biggest bowel cancer public
education campaign Cancer Council has ever rolled out in Victoria – launches as
new data shows the importance of early detection on survival rates.
Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said bowel
cancer is our second biggest cancer killer, claiming the lives of more than 1,300
Victorians each year.
“To understand the enormous impact of bowel cancer on
the Victorian community, consider this – bowel cancer kills four times more
Victorians than road accidents[i],” Mr Harper said.
“This is a real tragedy because many of these cancer
deaths are preventable, in fact if you detect bowel cancer at stage 1 or 2, you
have a 98% to 90% chance of survival respectively, but too many people are
ignoring the free and simple test mailed to our homes. I’ve done it myself. Compared
to the impact of a diagnosis on our immediate families and the long-term mental
and physical toll of advanced cancer treatment, doing the test is easy.”
But currently only 40 per cent of eligible Victorians
aged between 50 and 74 complete the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program
home test. This is the fourth lowest screening rate across the states and
Cancer Council hopes that this campaign will help to
increase participation to 50 per cent and lead to an additional 20,000
Victorians taking the test this year.
“If screening continues to rise, within the next 10 to
15 years more than one million extra Victorians could be screening for bowel
cancer, potentially saving tens of thousands of Victorians from aggressive bowel
cancer, treatment or death,” said Mr Harper.
“One of the major reasons people don’t do the test is
that they simply don’t realise that bowel cancer is a widespread, deadly
disease and that they could be at risk – this campaign aims to shine a
spotlight on this cancer and motivate Victorians to save themselves or their
“It is clear that the screening program helps to find
bowel cancer early, when 90% can be successfully treated, if you wait until you
have symptoms, you may be at stage 3 or 4 where your chances of survival
decrease to 71% and 15% respectively,” said Mr Harper.
“Our message is simple- if you’re aged over 50 and
receive the free bowel cancer screening test in the mail, do it. It could save
For more information visit www.cancervic.org.au/bowel
Helen Clapham was aged 56
and feeling 100% healthy when she received a bowel cancer screening test in the
mail. She completed the test without hesitation, and luckily so. It may have
saved her life.
“It was life changing. I
had no symptoms and absolutely no idea I had bowel cancer. The
doctor said it could have been so much worse if they found the cancer later.
I’m so grateful the test identified it early,” she said.
“People often think it won't happen to them, but
I’m proof this is not the case. I urge you; do the free test when you receive it in
the mail. It could save your life.”
in Victoria – a snapshot
V, Farrugia H. Cancer in Victoria: Statistics & Trends 2015. Cancer
Council Victoria, Melbourne 2016.
Cancer Council Victoria, Cancer Facts: Bowel cancer in Victoria July 2017.
‘Modelled analysis of impact of increasing NBCSP
participation in Victoria,’ Cancer Council NSW
The figures assume screening participation for all
screening-eligible ages (50-74 years) increases as a result of active
intervention in 2017, and reaches 50% by 2021.
The analysis used the Policy1-Bowel microsimulation platform, developed at CCNSW.
For further information about the model please
refer to: “Long-term evaluation of benefits, harms, and cost-effectiveness of
the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program in Australia: a modelling study,”
Lancet Public Health 2017; 2: e331–40, July 2017. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(17)30105-6
Council Victoria acknowledges that this campaign was made possible by the Hynam
Family - Edward Aubrey, Marjorie Mavis and Geoffrey Ian.