820 bowel cancer deaths in western Sydney over next five years

Colin has recovered from bowel cancer thanks to early detection.
Doonside resident Colin Campbell has recovered from bowel cancer, thanks to early detection.

By the end of 2021, 2880 people in western Sydney will be diagnosed with bowel cancer and 820 will lose their life to the disease.

New data from the Cancer Institute NSW shows that from now, someone in western Sydney will die from bowel cancer every two days (on average)

A simple test can save lives, experts say.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program sends a bowel cancer screening kit to all Australians, aged 50 to 74, on a regular basis.

The screening can be done in a person’s home and can detect potential warning signs of bowel cancer at a very early stage, before symptoms develop.

Early diagnosis gives people the best chance of survival.

A positive result on a bowel cancer screening test can lead to changes being detected and treated before they turn into cancer.

Westmead Hospital senior staff specialist (medical oncology) Dr Mark Wong said bowel cancer was the third most common cancer in western Sydney and the second most common cause of cancer death.

“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,” he said.

The state’s Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW Professor David Currow 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,” he said.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is a free service.

For more information and to check your eligibility, visit cancerscreening.gov.au or call 1800 118 868.

If you have symptoms, such as a persistent change in bowel habit, pain in your abdomen, bleeding, tiredness or weight loss, or if you are worried about your bowel health in any way, you should not wait for screening, but contact your doctor.

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