Bowel cancer remains Australia’s second deadliest cancer and ranks among the top five killers overall of Australians aged 45-74.i

Yet the latest National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) Report released today by the AIHW reveals participation rates continue to hover at 42.4% and colonoscopy wait times for those who receive a positive screen far exceed the ‘desirable’ 30 days.ii
 

A new Australian study has found the rates of bowel cancer in people under 50 continue to rise, supporting Bowel Cancer Australia’s Never2Young campaign to lower the screening age from 50 to 45.
 
Published in the ANZ Journal of Surgery (8 June 2020), the Gold Coast study found growing evidence of increasing rates of bowel cancer in people under age 50 after reviewing 557 patients who received a colonoscopy between 2013 and 2017.
 

Visible bowel cancer symptoms are NOT NORMAL. They require prompt investigation to rule out bowel cancer as the underlying cause.
 
With over 325 new cases and 108 deaths estimated weekly (16,938/5,597 annually - AIHW 2019), during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month this June, Australian’s are reminded that despite the NEW NORMAL, some things remain NOT NORMAL, such as - 
 

The impact of promotion and advertising campaigns on bowel cancer awareness and screening-uptake is clear when reviewing data released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
 
Dating back to 2014, the numbers show more National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) kits are completed in the June and September quarters every year than at any other time, highlighting the important influence Bowel Cancer Awareness Month is having on people’s behaviour.
 

Bowel cancer remains Australia’s second deadliest cancer, yet data released today shows people continue to decline the invitation to participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP).
 
In 2017-18, slightly more than 5 million people aged 50-74 were invited to participate in the NBCSP, but only 2.1 million (42.4%) took up the offer.
 

Ahead of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in June, Australians are being urged that despite uncertainties due to COVID-19, early detection of the disease cannot and should not stop, even during a pandemic.
 
The sharp decline in GP visits for people seeking treatment in the wake of the pandemic could result in bowel cancers being undiagnosed, or prolong the time to diagnosis, leading to poorer long-term outcomes.
 

Please refer to our Coronavirus webpage for more detailed and up-to-date information.


What does COVID-19 mean for someone affected by bowel cancer?

If you or someone you know has bowel cancer, your concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to extend beyond toilet paper shortages and low pasta supplies.

Inaugural Lawrence Penn Chair of Bowel Cancer Research, Mark Molloy, believes molecular testing of pre-cancerous bowel polyps can reveal why some polyps remain harmless while others turn deadly.

New research suggests individuals with Crohn’s disease are at increased risk of bowel cancer and bowel cancer death.
 
Furthermore, patients with Crohn’s who have bowel cancer are more likely to die from bowel cancer than bowel cancer patients who don’t have Crohn’s.