Rate of bowel cancer rising in 40 to 50 year olds

Bowel cancer screening measures need to be ramped up now for the sake of patients and the economy, according to the Gut Foundation. It says the federal government could save the Australian economy $2.6 billion by doing so.

Published in the Medical Journal of Australia, the report notes that existing screening tools are “highly cost effective” and that more needs to be done to counter Australia’s heavy bowel cancer toll.National Bowel Cancer Screening Program Kit

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is due to be expanded to biennial FOBT (Faecal Occult Blood Testing)  in 2020. Phase 3 of the program will be rolled out from 1st Jan 2016 to include the Australians aged 50y, 55y, 60y, 64y, 65y, 70y, 72y, and 74y. Previously however a FOBT was offered every 5yr commencing at age 50yr.

An annual FOBT is the most cost effective ($9,510 per disability adjusted life year averted), followed by the biennial FOBT ($21,490) and colonoscopy ($40,978). The actual costs of annual FOBT are the highest ($273.8 million), followed by colonoscopy ($251.2 million) and the biennial FOBT ($141.2million).

Previous modelling by Deloitte has shown annual FOBT could potentially save $2.6 billion. The rate of bowel cancer for people aged 40 to 50 are rising, with recent evidence suggesting that the incidence for people under 40 is also increasing. This raises the issue of testing patients aged under 50y too.