The incidence of bowel cancer is dramatically lower after screening, according to research reported in the Medical Journal of Australia.
The study of 200,000 people found that those who had had bowel cancer screening had a 44% lower risk of developing the disease in the four years following screening.
“Those who take part in screening and don’t have colorectal cancer have a substantially lower risk of developing the disease over the subsequent years,” says Emily Banks from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at The Australian National University (ANU).
“We have the potential to save hundreds of lives every year.”
Bowel cancer kills 80 Australians every week and is Australia’s second most common cause of cancer death.
The Federal Government has announced plans to accelerate the public screening program, to offer free screening every two years to Australians between the ages of 50 and 74 by 2020.
Part of the success of the screening process is that, as well as detecting disease early, it picks up pre-cancerous conditions such as polyps, which can be cleared up before they become serious, Professor Banks says.
“If you get invited for screening, do it,” she says.
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