June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Held by Bowel Cancer Australia, this annual initiative aims to raise awareness of Australia’s second deadliest cancer, which claims more than 100 Australian lives every week.
If found early, bowel cancer is one of the most treatable types of cancer. While the risk increases significantly with age, the disease doesn’t discriminate, affecting men and women, young and old. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program aims to reduce morbidity and mortality from bowel cancer by screening the eligible target population for early detection of the disease. Eligible Australians (those aged 50–74) are sent a free screening kit and are invited to screen every 2 years.
The North Coast recorded a 43% participation rate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program in 2019. The NSW average was 40%.
General practice endorsement is one of the strongest motivational factors for people to participate in screening. To support an increase in bowel cancer screening in your practice and access program resources, visit our Primary Care Impact page Improve FOBT screening of people aged 50–74. The page also includes a PDSA and case study by the Bullinah Aboriginal Health Service.
The risk of bowel cancer can be reduced by being smoke free, staying active, enjoying a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, limiting the intake of red and processed meats, and maintaining a healthy body weight.