With the launch of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month 2014, Bowel Cancer Australia is calling on the government to urgently address concerning inequities in support and access to life-extending treatments for Australia’s second deadliest cancer.

The call has been prompted by the My Cancer. My Voice survey, which revealed more than four out of five bowel cancer patients and survivors feel the general public lack an understanding of bowel BowelCancerAwarenessMonth2014_MyCancerMyVoice(1)cancer.

With 130,000 new cases of bowel cancer anticipated over the next 6 years, Bowel Cancer Australia thinks there is an opportunity to make a huge difference by taking action now.Chief Executive, Julien Wiggins, says he understands why bowel cancer patients feel this way.

“Survival rates for bowel cancer are poor compared to other common cancers. Only 66 per cent of Australians are likely to be alive at the five year mark [post-diagnosis], compared to around 90 per cent of patients living with melanoma, breast or prostate cancer.

“Very few treatment options are available to help extend life, which goes some way to explaining why the prospects are far worse for those with late-stage bowel cancer – less than one in five (16 per cent) are expected to be alive at five years,” said Mr Wiggins.

Australian bowel cancer patients are missing out on support services while undergoing treatment. The government has provided funding to other common cancers, while bowel cancer has received no such funding.

According to Mr Wiggins, the biggest problem is silence. People don’t hear much about the disease despite its high prevalence. Awareness of the disease is extremely low and this contributes to a lack of understanding about the cancer.

BowelCancerAustraliaAmbassador_Miriam-MargolyesBritish-born Actress Miriam Margolyes, who recently became Ambassador for Bowel Cancer Australia, is eager to raise awareness around the disease since it has affected some of her family members including her grandmother who died from bowel cancer.

“I’m working to raise awareness of bowel cancer because I know it’s one of the easiest cancers to treat if it’s caught early.

“Unfortunately it’s often embarrassment which stops people from seeking help or having the vital screening tests they need,” Miriam said.

Well known Australian actor Alan Fletcher (aka Dr Karl Kennedy from Neighbours) and Bowel Cancer Australia’s Associate Professor Graham Newstead, AM have also lent their voices to raise awareness this June, via radio across the country.

Bowel Cancer Australia Ambassador, Lara Bingle, has filmed a television commercial and social media clip outlining why it is important for the public to support Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. You can get involved by watching and sharing the clips with your family and friends!

June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. To learn how you can participate to help raise awareness of this life-threatening disease, head to www.bowelcancerawarenessmonth.org.