24 April 2015

Early detection of bowel cancer saves lives

Sarah Henderson, Member for Corangamite said the launch of the Abbott Government’s ‘a gift for living’ bowel cancer screening awareness campaign will boost screening awareness in at risk groups.

Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in Australia with approximately 80 Australians dying each week but only one third of Australians complete the testing kits sent to them.

“I lost my father, Michael Henderson, to bowel cancer a few days before his 58th birthday. His death at such a young age was devastating for our family; I still miss him every day. Personally, it is a real mission of mine to speak out about combatting this disease. The early detection of bowel cancer can save your life.”

Ms Henderson said the Abbott Government had delivered on its election promise to fast track the bowel screening programme in a bid to save more lives.

“I encourage everyone in Corangamite to complete and return their bowel cancer screening kit when they receive it as the more people that are screened, the more lives will be saved,” Ms Henderson said.

“The kit is simple and discreet to use in the privacy of your own home. We need more people in Corangamite completing their testing kits as bowel cancer often has no symptoms and early detection saves lives.

“However, unfortunately there is still quite a stigma with bowel cancer screening and that is something this campaign is designed to address.”

The Abbott Government has committed an additional $95.9 million to ensure Australians aged 50 to 74 would receive a free, at home bowel cancer screening kit every two years by 2020 rather than 2034 as was planned under the previous government.

Ms Henderson said previously people were only sent screening kits every five years between the age of 50 and 65 with nothing sent to those aged 66 to 74.

The expansion of the programme to include the additional age groups of 70 and 74 began this year.

Ms Henderson said $3 million of the commitment would be dedicated to a promotional campaign that will run across print, radio and online media to make sure Australians who receive a bowel screening invitation are aware of its importance.

The expansion will be implemented in phases over a five year period between 2015 and 2020:
• 70 and 74 year olds have already commenced screening
• 72 and 64 year olds added in 2016-17
• 68, 58 and 54 year olds added in 2017-18
• 66 and 62 year olds added in 2018-19
• 56 and 52 year olds added in 2019-20.

The Howard Government introduced the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program in 2006 and this expansion delivers on a key 2013 election commitment.

For more information, visit Australia.gov.au/bowelscreening or call the information line- 1800 11 88 68.