In a renewed bid to cut the incidence of bowel cancer, the Australian Government today launched A Gift for Living campaign, as part of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

According to Minister for Health Sussan Ley, Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world, but with the full implementation of biennial screening it is estimated we can save between 300 to 500 Australian lives each year.

Since the inception of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program in 2006, over 2.5 million Australians had been screened to June 2014, with 3,989 participants found with suspected or confirmed cancers and 12,294 diagnosed with advanced adenomas*.

“This has not only prevented enormous stress and heartache for thousands of Australian families, it has potentially saved our health system millions of dollars by not having to treat advanced bowel cancer, the most expensive cancer to treat in a hospital setting on high-cost drugs”, Ms Ley said.

“Over 2 million people will be sent a screening kit in 2016, rising each year to 4 million by 2020. On current evidence this will see 9,000 suspected or confirmed cancers and over 26,000 advanced adenomas detected and removed.”

“The missing element here is improved participation, with these numbers based on current participation rates hovering between 35-40 per cent. Imagine how many more lives we can improve or save if that figure was much higher?”

“The kit is one of the best first defences we have against bowel cancer; the more people we screen the more lives we can save. If detected early enough we know around 9 out of 10 cases can be successfully treated.”

“So, when you receive your screening kit, I would just say to those 6 out of 10 men or women who throw it away, remember it is A Gift for Living and that life might just be yours.”

More information


The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) aims to reduce illness and

death from bowel cancer through regular screening to support early detection.

The NBCSP is currently inviting men and women turning 50, 55, 60, 64, 65, 70, 72 and 74 to screen for bowel cancer. Participants are sent a free, easy to use screening kit that can be completed at home.

To invite you to take part in the program, your name has been drawn from either Medicare or Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold card enrolment records.

In the 2014 Budget, the Australian Government announced a further $95.9 million over four years to introduce two-yearly screening for all Australians aged 50 to 74.

In 2015 70 and 74 year olds started screening – between 2016 and 2020 the following age groups are being added to the screening program:

Year Eligible Ages
2016 50, 55, 60, 64, 65, 70, 72, 74
2017 50, 54, 55, 58, 60, 64, 68, 70, 72, 74
2018 50, 54, 58, 60, 62, 64, 66, 68, 70, 72, 74
2019 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62, 64, 66, 68, 70, 72,74


The Gift for Living campaign aims to increase awareness of, and participation in, the program. Advertisements will feature in print, radio, out of home and online media.

For more information, visit or call 1800 11 88 68.

*Advanced Adenoma – types of polyps more likely than others to become cancerous