They found that those with a family history of bowel cancer – defined as having a parent, sibling or child also affected – were 11 per cent less likely to die within five years of diagnosis than those with no family history.
The researchers said that a family history of bowel cancer should make people more aware of the disease resulting in earlier detection of the disease.
However the study found no significant difference in the stage of the cancers detected in patients with or without a family history suggesting earlier detection was not occurring.
Instead, they found that people with a family history of bowel cancer were more likely to have right sided cancers which are biologically different to cancers arising in other parts of the bowel. They said right sided cancers were traditionally easier to treat.
Bowel Cancer Australia chief executive Julien Wiggins said people with a family history of bowel cancer should be vigilant about regular screening for bowel cancer and discuss this with their GP.
'Join the Bowel Movement reminds people to Talk, Test and Tell. Tell is sharing your family's medical history with relatives so they know their risk and can take action.'
The study was published in the British Journal of Cancer.