Bowel cancer screening push

Department of Health

The Government is investing $10.8 million to encourage eligible Australians to complete their potentially lifesaving bowel cancer screening as new data reveals screening rates dropped in 2020-2021 and natural disasters impacted screening rates.  

Australia’s national bowel screening rate dropped to 40.9 per cent during 2020-2021. While more than 6 million Australians were sent a test, only around 2.5 million returned their samples for screening. That’s around 179,000 fewer people returning their tests in 2020-2021. 

The Government is partnering with Cancer Council Australia to roll out a national bowel screening campaign to remind Australians to ‘Get2It’, as research shows most people intend to do the test, but life gets in the way.  

The campaign begins as preliminary data from Cancer Council Victoria’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer (CBRC) shows the impact recent major natural disasters had on participation rates in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

The bushfires which devastated Australia in 2019-20 drove down participation rates by 27 per cent during that period in affected areas, while widespread flooding across the country led to a 23 per cent drop in participation rates. 

Get2It will run from now until November this year. Preliminary results show that around 37,000 reminders to screen were sent to people during the 2022 campaign, and an additional 89,500 people completed their screening test during the campaign period.

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer, yet 90 per cent of cases could be successfully treated if detected early.  

Increasing the screening rate to 60 per cent could save 84,000 Australian lives by 2040.  

It is important when the kit arrives in the mail Australians complete and return it promptly. Health care providers can also now bulk order National Bowel Cancer Screening Program kits and issue them to eligible patients.  

/Media Release. View in full here.