4,000 Australians are dying each year of a disease as treatable as appendicitis

According to a new report the number of Australians diagnosed with bowel cancer each year is increasing.

The report Bowel Cancer: One of Australia’s Most Common Diseases, being released this week by the GI CANCER Institute, says that while bowel cancer is one of the most curable diseases when diagnosed at an early stage, over 4,000 Australians continue to die of it each year.

The report quotes the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare statistics which have documented a steady increase in the number of Australians diagnosed with bowel cancer each year. In 2007 a total of 14,234 people had been diagnosed with the disease – double the number of people diagnosed with the disease in 1982. Untitled-91

The GI CANCER Institute report shows that deaths from bowel cancer are slowly going down, as more cases are diagnosed early. The report says that bowel cancer is 90% curable if caught early – but only 10% curable if not diagnosed until late in its progress.

According to the GI CANCER Institute regular screening could, in many cases, prevent bowel cancer before it develops.

“Not all polyps become cancerous,” says Professor Peter Hewett a surgeon at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide and a researcher with the GI CANCER Institute.

“Modern screening techniques mean the cancer can be caught and treated before it becomes fatal. At this stage in the cancer’s development it can be treated in the doctor’s surgery, without the need for a general anaesthetic.”

“The challenge we are facing is to get people to take the tests early,” says Professor Hewett, “if people show any of the main risk factors, such as a family history of bowel cancer or a sedentary lifestyle, especially if they are over forty, they should talk to their GP about testing.”

“Now is the time to talk about bowel cancer and, in doing so, to save lives,” says Russell Conley, Executive Director of the GI CANCER Institute. “This Sunday marks the start of Bowel Cancer Awareness Week and raising awareness of the curability of this cancer is as important as the medical research into treating advanced cases of this disease.”

The report, Bowel Cancer: One of Australia’s Most Common Diseases is attached.

Professor Peter Hewett is a leading surgeon at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide and a researcher with the GI CANCER Institute.

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