Image: Cancer Council

Bowel Cancer Screening Age Should Be Lowered To 45, Medical Research Body Says

Australians as young as 45 should be able screen for bowel cancer, following new guidelines from Australia’s peak medical research body.

The National Health and Medical Research Council has endorsed lowering the age of bowel cancer screening from 50 to 45, as rates for the cancer in people under 50 increases.

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It also means people aged 40 to 44 would be able to request a screening through their healthcare professional before their first initiation for a National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) kit.

Bowel Cancer Australia has advocated for the last five years for the minimum age to be lowered.

On Monday, it called on the federal government to approve, fund and implement the national bowel screening program with the lowered age of 45.

While the National Health and Medical Research Council has endorsed the new minimum age, people aged 45 to 49 will not be sent screening kits unless the government approves the change and commits to funding.

One in nine new bowel cancer diagnoses are made to those under the age of 50.

People aged 40 to 490 make up 56 per cent of new bowel cancer diagnoses while 64 per cent of deaths occur to those under 50.

“It has been years of tireless advocacy, and we remain grateful to our passionate team of advocates for their support,” Bowel Cancer Australia CEO, Julien Wiggins said.

“However, work remains, and we are now calling on the federal government to approve, fund and implement a lower NBCSP screening start age to stop people dying from early-onset bowel cancer.

“Youthfulness should not be a barrier to timely diagnosis, so it is equally imperative the updated guidance for people aged 40-44 is implemented by healthcare professionals.”

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