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"It’s crunch time" for bowel cancer prevention.

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MEDIA RELEASE Minister for Health and Ageing

Tony Abbott MHR

2 June 2006 ABB076/06

“It’s crunch time” for bowel cancer prevention

The Commonwealth Government today helped launch a national fund raising campaign targeting employers and retail outlets to help raise awareness of the early warning signs of bowel cancer.

I am pleased to launch the It’s Crunch Time campaign, run by the Bowel Cancer and Digestive Research Institute. The campaign aims to increase awareness of the potential deadly warning signs of bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer can be prevented if it’s detected and treated early. Everyone with a family history or symptoms of bowel cancer should contact his or her doctor. Symptoms include a change in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss and blood in the faeces.

In supporting the campaign, the institute is offering free ‘digestive health’ seminars for workplaces.

Bowel Cancer is the most common internal cancer affecting Australians and the second highest cause of cancer related deaths. About one in 17 men and one in 26 women will develop bowel cancer before the age of 75. About 90 Australians die each week from bowel cancer. If detected in its early stages bowel cancer can be successfully treated but less than 40 per cent of bowel cancers are currently detected early.

This is why the Government is introducing a new screening program. As part of the Strengthening Cancer Care initiative in the 2005-06 Budget, the Commonwealth Government allocated $43.4 million over three years to phase in a national bowel cancer screening program. This funding includes $7.8 million announced in the 2004-05 Budget for a bowel cancer screening pilot program. The program will begin in August and the Government is currently working with the states and territories on its implementation.

For more information on the It’s Crunch Time campaign, go to the Cancer and Digestive Research Institute Australia web site at

Media contact: Kate Miranda, Office of Tony Abbott, 0417 425 227