New figures from the Cancer Institute NSW show that by the end of 2021 a further 1,280 people in Western NSW will be diagnosed with bowel cancer and 420 will lose their life to the disease.
This means that on average someone will die from bowel cancer every four days however according to experts it’s possible to change these figures through a very simple test.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program sends a free bowel cancer screening kit to all Australians between the ages of 50 to 74 years old on a regular basis.
This kit, which can be done at home, can detect potential warning signs of bowel cancer at a very early stage, before symptoms develop.
For some people a positive result on a bowel cancer screening test can lead to changes being detected and treated before they turn into cancer.
The director of Cancer Services and Innovation for the Western NSW Local Health District Ruth Jones said bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in Western NSW and the second most common cause of cancer deaths.
“As clinicians too often we have to have difficult conversations with families about their diagnoses and treatment options. If we had detected these cancers while they were still localised, the prognoses would be very different,” she said.
She said 60 per cent of the bowel cancer cases diagnosed in Western NSW have already spread by the time they are detected.
The chief Cancer officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW Professor David Currow has stressed the importance of the test.
“The most important thing that a person can do to improve their chances of surviving a bowel cancer diagnosis is to have the cancer detected early. When you get your kit in the post, don’t put it off. It could save your life.”
However experts advise people who have symptoms such as a persistent changes in their bowel habits, pain in their abdomen, bleeding, tiredness or weight loss not wait for the screening, but to contact a doctor.
For information contact cancerscreening.gov.au or call 1800 118 868