Diagnostic Endoscopy Centre, Sydney

Colorectal Cancer (Bowel Cancer) Screening

Click here for the PDF version about Colorectal Cancer Screening

  • Bowel cancer is the most common internal cancer in Australia

  • Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer

  • Survival depends on early detection: 5-year survival if the cancer is detected in its early stages is 95%, 5-year survival in advanced disease is only 5%

  • Lifetime risk in men is 1 in 18

  • Lifetime risk in women is 1 in 28

  • Risk increases with age

  • Family history of bowel cancer or polyps is important in assessing your risk of developing this disease and your need for colonoscopy

  • Almost all bowel cancers start as a "polyp" in the bowel and the progression typically takes from 5-10 years

  • There is a window of opportunity when a bowel polyp can be safely and effectively removed to avoid cancer

  • Polyps are removed during a procedure called a "colonoscopy". This procedure can be done as at a Day Surgery facility

  • To detect bowel polyps your doctor may suggest a "Faecal Occult Blood Test" (a test for blood in the stool). These tests however miss up to 33% of polyps.

  • The most effective way of finding bowel polyps is with a colonoscopy. It is the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening. Experienced colonoscopists miss less than 5% of polyps.

  • The aim of a screening colonoscopy is to detect and remove pre-cancerous benign polyps. Screening should be done before any symptoms develop.

  • Colorectal cancer screening is important for everyone but it is particularly important if you have an increased risk because of a family history of bowel cancer, a past personal history of bowel cancer, or ulcerative colitis.