Bowel cancer screening expands to assist more

THE National Bowel Cancer Screening Program will be expanded to encourage more people to do the life-saving test.

With 69 years the average age of bowel cancer diagnosis, people aged 50-74 are sent a bowel screening test every two years as part of the program, but from July 1, people aged 45-49 can also request a free screening kit.
Professor Tracey O’Brien, Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, says any measures to help more people to screen for bowel cancer will help to create a healthier NSW.
“Unfortunately we know that Australia has one of the highest incidence of bowel cancer in the world – it’s the second biggest cancer killer in NSW,” Prof O’Brien said.
“We have a free, easy test that can change that and we hope the expanded age range will encourage more people to do this life-saving test.
“We hope the expanded age range can help to get more people in the door, and we are committed to our ongoing work with the national program to increase participation in NSW.”
Also known as colorectal cancer, bowel cancer develops from the inner lining of the bowel and is usually preceded by growths called polyps, which may become invasive cancer if undetected.
Depending on where the cancer begins, bowel cancer may be called colon or rectal cancer, with over 15,300 people diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2023.
Bowel cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, and it is estimated that one in 20 people will be diagnosed by the time they are 85.
About 90 per cent of bowel cancers are adenocarcinomas, which start in the glandular tissues lining the bowel.
Other less common types of cancer can also affect the bowel, including lymphomas and neuroendocrine tumours.
Cancer can also start in the small bowel but this is a rare cancer.
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