A good bowel prep is essential to a good colonoscopy and critical to detecting bowel cancer or preventing it through the detection and removal of polyps.

In Australia, inadequate bowel prep is observed in around 7% of all colonoscopies. With more than 900,000  colonoscopies performed annually in the country, this can equate to as many as 63,000 inadequate bowel preparations leading to poor or cancelled colonoscopies.

In a phase 1 trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre (MSK), published in Nature Medicine, a new vaccine is being investigated as a potential off-the-shelf treatment in bowel and pancreatic cancer patients with a KRAS mutation.

“Having a vaccine that’s ‘off-the-shelf’ would make it easier, faster, and less expensive to treat a larger number of patients,” says gastrointestinal oncologist at MSK, Dr Eileen O’Reilly, who co-led the trial. “This gives hope for people with pancreatic and bowel cancer who have been out of effective treatments when their disease returns.”

Bowel cancer is the third most diagnosed and second deadliest cancer in Australia, yet people diagnosed with bowel cancer don’t receive the same level of support as those with other common cancers.

In the lead-up to World Cancer Day on Sunday 4 February, Bowel Cancer Australia and Icon Cancer Centre have announced plans to place specialist Bowel Care Nurses in select Icon Cancer Centres across Australia, offering greater support for patients with bowel cancer and helping to close the care gap.

A recent study led by Imperial College London and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that increasing levels of folate (vitamin B9) and folic acid in the diet can reduce the risk of bowel cancer by 9%.

The research used data from over 70,000 individuals and examined the impact of folic acid supplementation and food naturally high in folate – such as leafy green vegetables (spinach, rocket), cruciferous vegetables, wholegrains, pulses, and fruit (particularly citrus) – on bowel cancer risk.

“Increasing your vegetable intake is an easy way to increase your intake of folate, with some added health benefits,” says Bowel Cancer Australia’s Nutritionist Jo.

Over the past three decades, there has been a global increase in bowel cancer incidence and mortality in people aged under 50. 
1,716 Australians are diagnosed with bowel cancer under the age of 50 each year. That’s 1-in-9 new bowel cancer cases.  

Bowel cancer is also the deadliest cancer for Australians aged 25-44. 

A recent study in Austria published in the JAMA, looked at the prevalence of bowel cancer and precursor (pre-cancerous) lesions in adults under 50 without symptoms. Precursor lesions include serrated lesions, adenomas, and advanced adenomas.  

According to the SCORE (Shared Care follow-up for colOREctal cancer survivors) trial, led by researchers at the Peter Mac Cancer Centre in Melbourne, bowel cancer patients prefer shared care, where follow-up is shared between a GP and hospital specialist (oncologist). 

This model of care exists in contrast to the usual or standard model of care, where follow-up is exclusively with a hospital specialist. 

The Victorian study has shown that shared care is safe and just as effective as hospital-based care in the follow-up of bowel cancer survivors.  

What can you do to help us close the gap in bowel cancer care?
Sunday, February 4, is World Cancer Day, and we’re calling on you to play your part in creating a bowel cancer-free world. 
While we live in a time of awe-inspiring advancements in (bowel) cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment, many who seek cancer care hit barriers at every turn.

This year’s World Cancer Day campaign is all about working together to reimagine a world where millions of preventable cancer deaths are saved and access to life-saving cancer treatment and care is equitable for all. 

Play For Purpose is the ultimate not-for-profit raffle!
Every ticket gives you the chance to win awesome prizes, all while supporting Bowel Cancer Australia.
Raffle tickets are just $10, with a guaranteed minimum of $5 directly supporting the charity.

A new oral treatment (tablet) called divarasib (GDC-6036) has proven effective in treating metastatic bowel cancer with a KRAS G12C mutation.
In a phase 1 trial published in Nature Medicine on 5 December, 62% of people with KRAS G12C mutated bowel cancer achieved a positive response to a combined treatment of divarasib and Erbitux (cetuximab).