The theme for this World Cancer Day is to ‘Close the Care Gap’ for those that seek cancer care and hit barriers at every turn.
In NSW, this is particularly relevant for bowel cancer screening, as there are significant disparities in screening participation rates across the state.
Read on to learn more about why this is an issue and what we’re doing to address it.
28,000 lives can be saved if more people participate in screening
With early detection, 9 out of 10 cases of bowel cancer can be cured when treated early.
However, only around 40% of people who are eligible for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program in NSW currently participate. As part of the program, people aged 50 to 74 receive a free test kit every two years – you can learn more about the program on the Australian Government website.
If we can raise this to just 60% people, we could save 28,000 lives over the next 25 years.
This raises the question: How can we encourage more people to take part?
We need to ‘Close the Care Gap’ across NSW
Newly published data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has revealed that NSW has some of the lowest bowel screening rates in Australia.
On top of this, the participation rates in some parts of NSW are particularly low, including Western and South Western Sydney.
We’re here to support everyone to reduce their cancer risk and get the information and support they need. But these disparities show that there is a care gap that needs to be addressed.
We need more targeted community-based programs that specifically address these barriers to increase participation in our bowel screening.
Governments need to invest in raising awareness about screening
Besides targeted programs, research shows that mass media educational campaigns about screening are effective at increasing the number of people that take part.
This is why it is more important than ever that the next NSW Government encourages more people to do the bowel screening test.
Yesterday, we launched our Here for Change election campaign to put pressure on the next NSW Government to commit to investing in public awareness of bowel cancer screening.
If you or anyone you know has any questions about cancer, call Cancer Council on 13 11 20 or visit www.cancercouncil.com.au/get-support.
Sign the petition for Cancer Council NSW’s Here for Change campaign. Be here for change, be here for life: www.canact.com.au/hereforchange