Cancer Council Australia

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Bowel cancer causes the second most cancer deaths in Australia after lung cancer and is the second most common cancer after prostate cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer).

More than 14,400 new cases of bowel cancer were diagnosed in Australia in 2009. The risk of being diagnosed by age 85 is 1 in 10 for men and 1 in 15 for women.

In 2007, there were 4,047 deaths caused by bowel cancer in Australia.


Despite the large disease burden that bowel cancer imposes on the community, individual risk can be significantly reduced through a healthy lifestyle - being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet and not smoking. In addition, alcohol is conclusively shown to cause bowel cancer in men and is probably a cause of bowel cancer in women.

A summary of the evidence on primary prevention of bowel cancer is included in the bowel cancer chapter of our National Cancer Prevention Policy.

Detailed evidence-based policy on reducing the individual lifestyle risk factors for bowel cancer is available in the:

Information on screening for bowel cancer is available under early detection.

Sources: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality Books; National Cancer Prevention Policy, Cancer Council Australia

This page was last updated on: Friday, October 11, 2019

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