Key statistics

Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world. About one in 25 Australians will develop bowel cancer before their 75th birthday. Most people diagnosed with bowel cancer have few, if any, symptoms.

Page last updated: 20 June 2017

Bowel cancer

  • Each year around 17,000 Australians are diagnosed with bowel cancer and around 92% of these people are aged over 50.
  • Bowel cancer is one of Australia's most common cancers. About 1 in 21 men and 1 in 30 women will develop bowel cancer before the age of 75.
  • Around 80 Australians die each week from bowel cancer making it the second most common cause of cancer-related death after lung cancer.
  • Bowel cancer is one of the most expensive cancers to treat: the health system costs to treat one case of advanced bowel cancer are around $100,000 and rising.
  • The good news is that if found early 9 out of 10 cases of bowel cancer can be successfully treated.
  • Evidence shows that when fully implemented the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program could save 500 lives each year.

National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

  • Since the inception of the program in 2006 to mid - 2017:
    • over 4.3 million Australians were screened;
    • 7,732 people were found to have suspected or confirmed cancers; and
    • 18,280 people were diagnosed with advanced adenomas (benign tumours that may become cancerous).
  • A 2014 study found that people who were invited to screen through the Program had 15% less risk of dying from bowel cancer, and were more likely to have less-advanced bowel cancers when diagnosed, than people who were not invited.
  • It is expected that from 2016 to 2020 approximately 9,000 suspected or confirmed cancers and over 26,000 advanced adenomas will be detected and removed.

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