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Bowel Cancer Screening Can Save 1000 Patients Annually

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Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. The disease is accounted for a high number of mortalities every year. However, bowel cancer shows high cure rate when it is detected early. Realizing this, a number of experts from the University of Sydney said that nearly 1000 mortality cases, resulted from bowel cancer, could be prevented annually if a bowel cancer screening program was carried out by the government in Australia. These facts were highlighted in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA).

According to recent data from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, more than 13,000 new bowel cancer cases and over 4000 mortalities are reported in Australia annually. Those figures mean that bowel cancer is considered the second most frequent type of cancer in the country, after prostate cancer, and the second type of cancer causing mortalities, following lung cancer. Kathy Flitcroft, research fellow from the University of Sydney's Screening and Test Evaluation Program, the lead author of the study, said that applying an evidence-based bowel cancer screening program would aid in rescuing the lives of 1000 individuals against bowel cancer, a number equal to a full Boeing 747 plane. Dr. Flitcroft said "Our study published in the MJA today showed a lack of adequate funding for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program has led to it being partially implemented on the basis of what the Australian Government has decided it can afford, rather than being based on proven research evidence of how a program should be implemented in order for it to be effective,"

Bowel cancer screening guidelines, recommended by National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC), say that fecal occult blood test (FOBT) screening is to be carried out to all people at the age of 50 in order to detect bowel cancer. The screening test is to be repeated every two years. Dr. Flitcroft commented "But the Federal Government is currently offering once-only screening to those aged 50, 55 and 65 years old," she continued "By not following the NHMRC guidelines, the Federal Government is offering a program that is unlikely to deliver the 25% reduction in deaths from bowel cancer that a more evidence-based approach would be expected to achieve.”

Dr. Flitcroft added "Bowel cancer screening, like breast and cervical cancer screening, needs to be repeated every two years to be effective, and should be offered to the entire age range of those most at risk, not just selected ages within that age range.” Continuing "This partial program is like offering one dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination to children aged two years, when in order for it to be work, it needs to be given in two doses, when children are one and four years old."

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