The Cancer Council’s Far North Coast Office has joined a campaign – Get Behind Bowel Screening – calling on the Federal Government to extend bowel cancer screening to all Australians over 50.

“Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest killer. More than 78 people die from the disease in the Far North Coast each year, yet most cases could be cured if caught and treated early,” said Corinne Martin from Cancer Council’s Far North Coast regional office.

“We know screening is one of the most effective ways of identifying bowel cancer and gives a person the best opportunity to have treatment before it spreads and becomes more life-threatening.

“But the Government’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is grossly under-funded.”

Currently, only people turning 50, 55 or 65 before December 2010 will receive a free screening kit and with no offer of re-screening. That means around five million Australians aged over 50 are missing out on a test that could save their lives.

Ms Martin said that according to conservative estimates, the Government could save the lives of more than 30 Australians each week by expanding the program to include all Australians aged 50 and over. Further delays in program expansion would lead to more unnecessary deaths.

“One in 12 Australians will get bowel cancer. This figure is too big to be ignored, and I urge the government to see the merit in this vital screening program and start making it available to everybody aged 50 and above,” Ms Martin said.

Cancer Council encourages everybody living in the Far North Coast to log on to and send an email to pressure the Government to fully implement the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.