Cancer Council Australia

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Bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer after non-melanoma skin cancer1 and prostate cancer, with one in 12 Australians developing bowel cancer by the age of 85. It is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in Australia, after lung cancer.

The good news is that if bowel cancer is detected and treated at the earliest stage, the cure rate is around 90%. The Australian Government introduced the National Bowel Cancer Screening program in 2006, initially providing limited screening as a one-off test for people turning 55 and 65. In 2008, 50-year-olds were added to the program.

In May 2012 Cancer Council Australia welcomed $50 million over four years in new Government funding to add 60-year-olds to the program from July 2013 and 70-year-olds in 2015. We will continue to work with Government to seek further expansion of the program, until it is extended to all Australians aged 50 and over as a biennial screening test – as supported by the evidence.

The bowel cancer screening chapter of our National Cancer Prevention Policy provides comprehensive information on bowel cancer screening in Australia, including statistical data, the evidence base, policy context and priorities.

1) Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer according to surveys, however there is no reporting of actual cases to cancer registries.

This page was last updated on: Thursday, November 19, 2015