More than 1300 Victorians die from bowel cancer every year.
More than 1300 Victorians die from bowel cancer every year.

Life-saving screening kits binned

MORE than a half of Australians are still throwing their free bowel cancer home-testing kits in the bin, as a new advertising blitz is launched to encourage more people to participate in the lifesaving program.

Despite offering a 90 per cent chance of being successfully treated if detected early, 43 per cent of Victorians are still ditching the free screening test.

Health Minister Greg Hunt will on Friday unveil a $10 million advertising package across television, radio, social media and billboards throughout 2019 in a bid to get more people to use the take-home screening kit.

Of the 3.2 million Aussies invited to screen themselves between January 2015 and December 2016, 41 per cent participated in the program - a 2 per cent increase on the ­previous screening period.

Health Minister Greg Hunt. Picture: Kym Smith
Health Minister Greg Hunt. Picture: Kym Smith

More than 1300 Victorians die each year from the disease that can be easily treated in its early stages.

Victorian regional areas have some of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the country with Murray River, Swan Hill, Grampians, Heathcote, Castlemaine and Kyneton the worst in the state.

Mr Hunt said the new campaign aimed to create awareness about the benefits of early detection and prompt quicker diagnosis and treatment.

"Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in Australian with 17,000 people diagnosed each year," Mr Hunt said.

"From age 50, the risk of bowel cancer increases, with one in 11 men, and one in 15 women, developing bowel ­cancer before the age of 85.

"Symptoms can often be ­silent, so screening is absolutely critical for early detection.

"Testing can even find the early warning signs even before bowel cancer develops."

Cancer Council of Victoria chief executive Todd Harper said all Australians between the ages of 54 and 70 should take the test.

"The benefits from doing this test are enormous in terms of being able to detect polyps and cancer, but also it's free, easy and you can do it in your own home," Mr Harper said.

The free home test kit contains a full instruction booklet, a zip-lock bag, two flushable collection sheets, two sampling sticks and sterile collection tubes, two identification stickers for the collection tubes, two transportation tubes, and a prepaid envelope and checklist with which to return your samples.

To find out when you're eligible for a kit, call the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program on 1800 118 868.