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Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) data shows that while South Australia has one of the highest bowel cancer screening participation rates in Australia, in 2020-21 South Australia recorded its lowest bowel cancer screening participation rates since 2014.

The AIHW report provides the most comprehensive look at the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program participation in Australia.

The data shows that South Australia’s screening rate currently sits at 44.4 per cent and this is down from our highest state rate of 48.9 percent in 2018-19.

Cancer Council SA Prevention and Advocacy Manager Christine Morris said that bowel screening participation rates are trending down nationwide, which is very concerning.

“Bowel cancer kills over 350 South Australians each year, and it often has no symptoms,” she said.

“Screening is the best way to detect bowel cancer, with up to 90 per cent of bowel cancers able to be treated effectively if caught early. That’s why cancer screening is so important.”

“A screening rate of just 44.4 per cent means that there are still over 50 per cent of eligible South Australians who aren’t doing the test. We want to see that number as close to 100 per cent as possible. The more people who screen, the more bowel cancers we can detect early and the more lives that will be saved. We are thrilled to partner with Wellbeing SA on our bowel screening awareness campaign.”

Cancer Council SA’s campaign in partnership with Wellbeing SA, is encouraging South Australians aged between 50 and 74 to Get2It and complete their free bowel cancer screening kit every two years when they receive it in the mail through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Wellbeing SA Chief Executive, Lyn Dean recognises, “While South Australia is leading the nation, more needs to be done to maximise the benefit of prevention and early detection of bowel cancer particularly for Aboriginal, multicultural, rural and remote communities. This is why we have invested in community education programs as well as the Get2It campaign.”

The at-home bowel screening test kit can be performed in 10 minutes. It is quick, painless and clean—and it could save your life.

Lorraine Gill knows firsthand the importance of regular bowel screening. She was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 70 years old after completing a bowel cancer screening kit.

“I had just been in Japan on a cruise, and I came home to this little package in the post. Within three weeks I was having surgery to remove a six-centimetre tumour,” she said.

“I am just so thankful every day that I did the test—who knows where I would be if I hadn’t done it.”

“I am always extremely surprised when I have conversations with people who say they have the kit at home, but they haven’t gotten around to it. I didn’t have any symptoms. If I hadn’t done that test, things could’ve been a lot worse.”

“My advice to people out there is when you receive that kit in the post, do it. It saved my life, and it could save yours too.”

For more information on bowel cancer screening visit the Cancer Council SA website here.

If you or someone you love has been impacted by cancer or has any questions, Cancer Council’s nurses are available on 13 11 20.

Notes to editor:

Top 10 SA3 regions with the lowest bowel screening participation rates, 2020-21:

  1. Playford (34.5%)
  2. Outback – North and East (35.1%)
  3.  Adelaide City (35.9%)
  4. Salisbury (39.3%)
  5. Port Adelaide – West (40.2%)
  6. Port Adelaide – East (40.6%)
  7. Eyre Peninsula and South West (41.4%)
  8. Mid-North (42.5%)
  9. Gawler – Two Wells (42.9%)
  10. Murray and Mallee (43.1%)