Bowel cancer screening is one of the most effective screening tests available.
As part of the 2012-13 Federal Budget, the Australian Government announced that the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program will be expanded to include Australians turning 60 years of age from 2013 and those turning 70 years of age from 2015.
Between 1 July 2012 and 31 December 2015 up to 4.8 million eligible Australians will be offered free bowel cancer screening which includes 1.2 million Australians aged 60 and 70 years.
The Program will be further expanded in 2017-18, when a phased implementation of biennial screening will commence. When fully implemented, all Australians aged between 50 and 74 years will be offered free screening every two years, consistent with the recommendations of the National Health and Medical Research Council.
The expansion of the program means that more than 12,000 suspected or confirmed cancers will be detected each year and between 300 and 500 lives saved annually. This will significantly reduce the burden of bowel cancer on Australians and their families.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program demonstrates the strong benefits of early detection, which allows patients an excellent prognosis. The expanded screening program and the role it plays in reducing the risk and improving prognosis of the development of bowel cancer through early diagnosis is significant.