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.
Since then the program has expanded under successive governments. The program is now fully implemented, inviting all Australians aged 50 to 74 to screen every two years.
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.
Explore more information about the early detection of bowel cancer