Perception remains that bowel cancer screening is messy and embarrassing
Since 2004, Bowel Cancer Australia has commissioned community and patient surveys to track our awareness efforts and determine where we need to focus our advocacy, awareness and support activities.
Bowel Cancer Australia's Community Awareness and Understanding of Bowel Cancer research have been conducted in 2004, 2007, 2012, 2014 and 2015.
As the risk of bowel cancer increases sharply with age, all surveys pre-2015 involved Australian men and women from age 40.
In recognition of bowel cancer in younger people, we opened up our survey in 2015 to Australians aged 20-49 years old.
- Importantly, there has been an upward trend in the number of both men and women aged 50 and over reporting they have taken a recent bowel cancer screening test.
- Awareness of the availability of self-testing kits is now higher than ever - 91% of people in the target screening age (50-70 years old) are aware of the screening kits.
- A higher proportion of people aged 50 and over also said they definitely or probably will take the test in the next couple of years, compared to participants in previous years.
Areas for improvement
- The perception that bowel cancer screening is messy and embarrassing is still one of the main reasons people aged 50 and over put off using a bowel screening kit.
- A fear of receiving bad news (whether founded or not) is another main reason many people aged 50 and over might not have tests for bowel cancer.
- While bowel cancer affects men and women almost equally, our research revealed that women are less likely than men to have a test for bowel cancer.