Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

This month – June 2013 – is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. This is an annual public education initiative of Bowel Cancer Australia, a charity set up in 2000 to reduce the impact of bowel cancer in the community. Now in its thirteenth year, the initiative aims to raise public awareness of a disease that claims the lives of 77 Australians every week.

Bowel cancer is the second most common type of newly diagnosed cancer in Australia, affecting both men and women almost equally, and is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer after lung cancer.

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month has a positive message – saving lives through early detection – as bowel cancer is one of the most curable types of cancer if found early.

Activities during the month promote and encourage people who are at risk of developing the disease or experiencing symptoms to see a doctor and get checked. People without symptoms are encouraged to take advantage of a BowelScreen Australia screening test for bowel cancer prevention and early detection. These test kits are available from your nearest participating pharmacy or can be ordered on line at

A highlight of the Month is red Aussie Apple Day, Wednesday 19 June 2013, where Australians are encouraged to support the work of Bowel Cancer Australia through the purchase of a $2 apple pin. For more information visit

In 2006 the Australian Government introduced the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program as a one-off test for people turning 55 and 65. Testing for 50 year olds was added in 2008.

In May 2012, the Government announced it would inject a further $49.7 million to extend bowel cancer screening to Australins turning 60 from next year and 70 year olds from 2015. It would then progressively shift to two-yearly screening of all Australians aged 50 to 74 from 2017-18.

The Cancer Council of Australia reports that bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in people aged 50 and over. Some people have a higher risk due to a strong familiy history of bowel cancer or having had colitis or Crohn’s disease.

You can lower your risk of bowel cancer by having a healthy lifestyle. Australian health authorities recommend the following:

  • a bowel cancer screen test every two years from the age of 50
  • maintaining a healthy body weight
  • eating a healthy diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • doing 30 minutes of vigorous exercise, or an hour of moderate exercise, most days
  • limiting alcohol to no more than two standard drinks per day, or avoiding it altogether
  • not smoking

For more information you can contact the Multilingual Cancer Information Line. To talk confidentially with a cancer nurse in your preferred language, with the help of an interpreter, follow these steps:

1. Call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

2. Say the language you need.

3. Wait on the line for an interpreter (may take up to 3 minutes).

4. Ask the interpreter to contact the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.

5. You will be connected to the interpreter and a cancer nurse.

Alternatively, please see your local doctor (GP) or pharmacist for further information.

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in Italian