Hello, I'm Professor Michael Kidd, General Practitioner and Deputy Chief Medical Officer with the Australian Government, Department of Health and Aged Care. I'm speaking to you today from Ngunnawal Dhawura, Ngunnawal Country. June is National Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, and I'd like to talk with you today about the critical role that we as healthcare providers play in encouraging our patients to take part in screening for bowel cancer and a new way that you can actively help more patients to screen for bowel cancer. The National Bowel Cancer Screening program mails a free bowel cancer screening kit to Australians aged 50 to 74 every two years. The test is easy to do and can be completed at home. Unfortunately, program screening participation rates are only 41% and that's lower than half of all eligible Australians. And participation rates are even lower in some of our communities. Each year, though, more than 15,000 cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed and more than 5000 lives are lost to bowel cancer. The good news, though, is that when detected early, more than 90% of bowel cancers can be successfully treated. At current rates, the program will save 59,000 lives between 2015 and 2040. If we increase participation to 60%, we could save over 84,000 lives by 2040, another 24,000 lives saved. One of the ways we're working to save lives is through public health campaigns such as the National Bowel Cancer Screening Campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of bowel cancer screening in our community and also invites healthcare providers to support your patients in screening. We know that people are more likely to complete the test after discussing it with a trusted healthcare provider. We also know that once people start screening, 80% will re-screen when they're next invited. So having those critical, encouraging conversations can help your patients to overcome any initial resistance or concerns they may have about screening for bowel cancer. We recently implemented a new way for healthcare providers to encourage people to screen, especially those who have never screened before or those who are overdue for bowel cancer screening. Healthcare providers can now stock National Bowel Cancer Screening program kits to issue to eligible patients aged 50 to 74 through the program's alternative access to kits model. By offering eligible patients a program kit rather than a Medicare or private pathology kit, your patients are supported by the automated functions of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Register, which will remind people to screen every two years.
We know that age is the biggest risk factor in getting bowel cancer, and we know that bowel cancer screening saves lives. So I encourage you to help your patients to put their own health and well-being first. For further information on the National Bowel Cancer Screening program, you can visit our website at health.gov.au.
Healthcare providers play a critical role in encouraging patients to take part in screening for bowel cancer. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program mails a free bowel cancer screening kit to Australians aged 50 to 74 every 2 years. The test is easy to do and completed at home.
Program participation rates are only 41%, lower than half of all eligible Australians. And participation rates are even lower in some communities. When detected early, more than 90% of bowel cancers can be successfully treated. At current rates, the program will save 59,000 lives between 2015 and 2040. If participation increases to 60%, 84,000 lives can be saved by 2040.
Find out more about National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.