New campaign sends clear message to men about spreading the word on screening

A new bowel cancer awareness campaign has emerged with an extra challenge that goes a step beyond the all-important message of screening.

The Bowel Cancer Screening Challenge: Do You Have The Guts? campaign is running in community pharmacies and encourages people, in particular men, to spread the word about screening to their friends and loved ones.

It has a very salient purpose given around 2,200 Australian men die from bowel cancer each year.

The new campaign builds on the successful, ongoing Join the Bowel Movement key messages disseminated during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in June 2013:

  1. Talk – help remove the embarrassment surrounding bowel cancer by talking with family and friends about signs, symptoms and testing.
  2. Test – take a bowel cancer screening test, especially if you’re over 50.
  3. Tell – share your family’s medical history with close relatives.

While bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer, fortunately it may be treated successfully if detected early. The aim of screening is to find any polyps or early stage cancer when it is easier to treat and cure.

Check out our animation on bowel cancer here.

“While bowel cancer is one of the most curable cancers if found early, currently fewer than 40 per cent of bowel cancers are detected in the early stages of the disease,” said Julien Wiggins, CEO of Bowel Cancer Australia.

Success of screening:

Clinical trials have demonstrated annual bowel cancer population screening can reduce deaths from bowel cancer by 15 to 33 per cent.However, the National Health and Medical Research Council recommend performing a Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) at least once every two years.5

This inexpensive bowel screening test is available through pharmacy and may be carried out in the privacy of your own home. It involves testing for blood in the stool but not the cancer itself. If the result is positive, it may be due to haemorrhoids or a tear, but requires further investigation.

The current National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is funded by the Australian Government, and provides free bowel cancer screening to people aged 50, 55 and 65. The program has been expanded under the 2012-13 Budget, providing additional screenings to people aged 60 and 70. Furthermore, in 2017-18 a biennial screening plan will commence, beginning with 72 year olds.

  • Approximately 80 Australians die each week from the disease.
  • Bowel cancer most commonly affects people aged 50 and over.
  • The exact cause is not known but some factors include, ageing, bowel diseases, weight, diet and family history.
  • Blood or mucus in the faeces may be a symptom of bowel cancer.
  • Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer worldwide.In 2012, 15,840 cases of bowel cancer were reported in Australia.