National bowel screen program saves lives

April 2, 2013, Flinders University
National bowel screen program saves lives: Flinders report

(Medical Xpress)—Flinders University health experts are calling on the Federal Government to accelerate the roll out of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP), following a landmark report which shows it will lead to a significant drop in colorectal cancer mortality.

The study – published yesterday in the Medical Journal of Australia – provides unprecedented evidence to show that the program is one of the most effective weapons in the fight against Australia's second-commonest cancer.

The NBCSP was introduced in 2006 by the Federal Government, initially offering every Australian turning 55 or 65 years of age a free faecal occult kit that they could use in the privacy and convenience of their own home.

The recent has provided for a slow expansion of the NBCSP with 50 and 60-year-olds now being invited and 70-year-olds to be included in 2015. By 2035 it is planned that every Australian between 50 and 74 will be offered a free screening kit every two years.

However, Flinders Professor of Global Gastrointestinal Health Graeme Young (pictured) said that, in view of the new report which shows that people who take part in the program have a much better , the government must accelerate the program's full expansion.

Using data from the South Australian Cancer Registry and the NBCSP register, the study found that of the 3481 people aged 55-75 who were diagnosed with in South Australia between 2003 and 2008, those who completed the test had their cancer detected much earlier than those who did not.

The study compared cancers diagnosed in people offered the NBCSP test to cancers diagnosed in people of the same age range who were not invited to the program.

The number of people completing the test who were diagnosed at an incurable stage of the disease dropped from 12 per cent to three per cent while the number of people with highly-curable cancers doubled, from 20 per cent to 40 per cent.

"This is a landmark study in Australia because it not only shows that bowel cancer screening does work when organised in this fashion but that it will have a significant impact on the burden of this disease to the community," Professor Young, based at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, said.

"While concerns have been raised in the past about the accuracy of the test and the willingness of people to participate, the reality is that it works," he said.

"It's also the first time that anyone in the world has been able to prove, using data from whole-of-population cancer registries, that this simple but advanced-technology screening test can provide such benefit."

As the prognosis for bowel cancer is largely stage dependent, Professor Young said the program allowed more patients to be diagnosed at an earlier stage of the disease and therefore treated sooner, which ultimately improves survival rates.

"About 80 Australians die every week from colorectal (bowel) cancer and that need not continue.

"So why wait until 2035 before everyone who should get the test, gets it?"

Explore further: Screening helps early diagnosis of bowel cancer

Related Stories

Screening helps early diagnosis of bowel cancer

June 18, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Patients who attend bowel screening are more likely to be diagnosed with bowel cancer at an early stage - when there is a better chance of survival - than those who wait until they have symptoms of the ...

New analysis shows most Australians at increased risk of bowel cancer are under-screened

February 17, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- People who are at an increased risk of developing bowel cancer, because they have a family history of the disease, are failing to have adequate screening, a University of Melbourne study has found.

Bowel screening reduces cancer deaths by more than 25 per cent

November 9, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Bowel screening reduces the number of deaths from bowel cancer in Scotland by more than 25 per cent, according to research* presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference ...

Bowel cancer patients diagnosed through screening more likely to survive

July 25, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Bowel cancer patients whose disease was found through screening have a better chance of beating their disease than those diagnosed after developing symptoms, new research shows today.

Bowel screening helps to detect early cancers before they become deadly, study finds

November 5, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Bowel screening is detecting more cancers when they are less mature and have less aggressive biological characteristics according to new research presented at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Liverpool this ...

Recommended for you

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.