3 November 2014

The incidence of bowel cancer is dramatically lower in the four years following screening, according to new research.

The study involving 200,000 people in New South Wales found that those who screened for bowel cancer had a 44 percent lower risk of developing the disease in the four years after screening than those who had not taken the test.

“People who screen and don’t have colorectal cancer have a substantially lower risk of developing the disease over the subsequent years,” the report’s co-author, Professor Emily Banks from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University (ANU) said.

“We already know from international evidence that colorectal screening saves lives, we know it’s effective in reducing death rates and we know that people who have colorectal cancer diagnosed at screening are likely to have an earlier stage of the disease,” she said.

“This really is another piece in the puzzle that says not only will we be saving lives by detecting colorectal cancer early, there’s also potential to pick up pre-cancerous lesions… and you’ll have the reassurance that on average there’s around a halving in the risk on colorectal cancer after being given the all clear at screening.”

Professor Banks said the research reinforced the Federal Government’s plan to accelerate the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program to every two years from age 50 by 2020.

Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world, with the disease claiming around 80 lives each week.