Bowel cancer risk rises sharply and progressively from age 50 
About Bowel Cancer Risk-Factors 770newfinal
 
If you are aged 50 years and over 'doing nothing is not an option' when it comes to bowel cancer risk.
 
Bowel cancer is the second most common type of newly diagnosed cancer in Australia, with the majority of people diagnosed aged 50 years and older.
 
But the good news is that bowel can be successfully treated in 90% of cases, if detected early.
 
So being aware of bowel cancer and taking steps to reduce your risks and detect it early, are paramount. 
 

 
Bowel cancer - the facts

 

  • 14,958 Australians are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year (66% colon, 33% rectal). 

    • 13,843 (92.5%) of whom are aged 50 years and over while 1,115 (7.5%) of whom are aged 50 years and under.
  • Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer after lung cancer, claiming the lives of 4,162 people every year (3,944 (or 94.7%) aged 50 years and over).

  • Both men and women are at risk of developing bowel cancer, with a split of around 55% male and 45% female.

  • Early detection offers the best hope of reducing the number of Australians who die each year from bowel cancer. 


  

Risk statistics by age

 

The risk of bowel cancer increases with age, as indicated in the table below:

 

30
1 in 7,000
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 5 years
1 in 2,000
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 10 years
1 in 700
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 15 years
1 in 350
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 20 years
40
1 in 1,200
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 5 years
1 in 400
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 10 years
1 in 200
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 15 years
1 in 90
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 20 years
50
1 in 300
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 5 years
1 in 100
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 10 years
1 in 50
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 15 years
1 in 30
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 20 years
60
1 in 100
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 5 years
1 in 50
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 10 years
1 in 30
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 15 years
1 in 20
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 20 years
70
1 in 65
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 5 years
1 in 30
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 10 years
1 in 20
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 15 years
1 in 15
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 20 years
80
1 in 50
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 5 years
1 in 25
risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the next 10 years

 

Note: Absolute risk is the observed or calculated likelihood of the occurrence of an event in a population under study (cf relative risk, which is the ratio of the risk in a particular exposed group to the average risk in the population).  Source: AIHW 1996 (NHMRC).

 

 
Bowel cancer in people aged 50 years and over
 
The risk of bowel cancer rises sharpely and progressively from the age of 50.  So if you are aged 50 and over you need to talk to your doctor ASAP about how to minimise your risk of developing bowel cancer.
 
This may mean screening for bowel cancer by way of a bowel cancer screening test (known as a Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)) every 1 to 2 years, or a colonoscopy (if you are at an above average risk of developing the disease).
 
If you are aged 50 years and over 'doing nothing is not an option' when it comes to bowel cancer risk.
 
  • If you are experiencing symptoms it is very important to talk to your doctor ASAP.

  • If you have a family/personal history of bowel cancer/polyps it is important to discuss your bowel cancer risk with your doctor.

  • If you are not experiencing symptoms and don't have a family/personal history of bowel cancer/polyps it is important to screen for bowel cancer every 1 to 2 years from age 50.
     

Bowel cancer in younger people (aged 49 years and under) 

You should never be told that you are too young to have bowel cancer.
 
While bowel cancer is more common in people aged 50 years and over, bowel cancer increasingly affects all age groups.
 
It is a common misconception that bowel cancer is 'an old person's disease'.
 
Although a large majority of newly diagnosed bowel cancer cases occur in people aged 50 years and over, more than 1,000 'younger' Australians are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year.
 
So bowel cancer risk is certainly something people of all ages need to be aware of.
 
For more information visit nevertooyoung.org.au
 
Bowel Cancer Australia Helpline
Banner Bowel Cancer Australia Screening Surveillance 300
Banner Bowel Cancer Australia Non Modifiable Risk Factors 300
Bowel Cancer Australia BowelScreen Australia Test