On average, 60 people in the Hunter die from bowel cancer each year, according to Bowel Cancer Australia.
Data from Cancer Australia has reflected less than 50 per cent of diagnoses happen in the early stages of bowel cancer, despite it being a preventable disease.
"A recent analysis of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that bowel cancer screening is effective in reducing bowel cancer death rates, yet participation remains low at 41 per cent. I encourage those invited to participate to make it a priority," said Cancer Australia CEO Dr Helen Zorbas.
The Hunter's rates are worse than the national average, as only 32% of Hunter residents took the free National Bowel Screening Test mailed out by the federal government in 2015-16.
According to Bowel Cancer Australia, up to 75 per cent of cases are diet and lifestyle related.
The best way to reduce your risk identified by the organisation are:
- Stay a healthy weight
- Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day
- Increase fibre intake
- Increase dairy intake
- Reduce red or processed meat intake
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Quit smoking
Symptoms include a change in bowel habits, bleeding from the rectum, unexplained weight loss, tiredness or fatigue, abdominal pain, cramping or bloating.
However, people can go symptomless when the cancer is present.
You can check your eligibility here.
Or visit Bowel Cancer Australia here.