Battle of the poos: Which WA region leads the bowel screening battle?

Posted 23 Jun 2021.

The Bowel Cancer home test kit

Talking about poo might sometimes be taboo but Cancer Council is continuing its mission to beat the stigma and encourage West Australian residents to complete their bowel screening test with new data released today showing some of the top poo-formers across the State.

New data released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed that the regions of Augusta - Margaret River - Busselton, Joondalup, Manjimup, Albany and Melville had the highest participation rates in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program in WA.

Encouragingly, the region of Mid West/Gascoyne improved a whopping 6.4 percentage points to take out the most improved title for screening participation region, up from 34% in 2016-17 to 40% in 2018-19.

Our Cancer Prevention and Research Director, Melissa Ledger explained "Bowel cancer is Australia's second biggest cancer killer claiming the lives of around 100 Australians each week. Thankfully however, we have a screening test that can detect these cancers early, often before symptoms arise."

The promising increase in participation rates comes as new Cancer Council data released today shows that the 2019 Australian Government-funded Cancer Council National Bowel Screening communications campaign was responsible for a whopping 93,000 people nationally doing these tests.

"The extra 93,000 tests completed nationally equates to 860 bowel cancers being prevented and 470 lives saved over the next 50 years," Ms Ledger said.

Some regions across the state showed marked improvement in the participation rate over the reporting period with Swan (5%), Kimberley (4.5%), Joondalup (4.3%) and Cockburn (4%) making the greatest improvements after Gascoyne/Mid West.

"The West Australian regions who have performed well deserve a pat on the back and we would encourage everyone to talk to their friends and family who are aged 50-74 and ask them if they've done their test - talking about poo isn't taboo when it could save your life<' she said.

"Across Western Australia we see significant disparities in participation rates. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows that while participation has increased it still equates to only 4 in 10 completing their bowel screening test when it was sent to them in the mail.

"Cancer Council's goal is to see all regions across the state have these high participation rates because we know that if we can increase participation across the country from 4 in 10 to 6 in 10, we could save 84,000 lives over the next 20 years.

"If you have the screening test at home and you're yet to complete it, please do the test now."

"Cancer Council is very pleased to be working with the Australian Government to get more people participating in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and we hope the continued awareness from another campaign will help us in our mutual goal to achieve a cancer free future."

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program delivers free screening kits to the homes of eligible Australians aged 50-74 every two years. The test is quick, clean and hygienic and can be completed at home and returned in the post.

Regions with the highest participation rates in WA for 2018-19 (%):

  1. Augusta - Margaret River - Busselton (53.7%)
  2. Joondalup (52.6%)
  3. Manjimup (52.5%)
  4. Albany (50.8%)
  5. Melville (50.6%)
  6. Mandurah (49.2%)
  7. Esperance (49.0%)
  8. Cottesloe-Claremont (48.2%)
  9. Bunbury (48.1%)
  10. Kalamunda (47.7%)

Regions with the greatest improvements in screening participation:

SA3 name Participation 2016-17 (%)

State Region Ranking 2016-17 (%)

Participation 2018-19 (%) State Region Ranking 2018-19 (%) Participation increase (%)
Gascoyne 33.7 30 40.1 28 6.4
Swan 38.2 28 43.2 25 5.0
Kimberley 22.6 33 27.1 32 4.5
Joondalup 48.3 4 52.6 2 4.3
Cockburn 40.5 24 44.5 20 4.0
Fremantle 43.8 15 47.4 11 3.6
Kalamunda 44.1 13 47.7 10 3.6

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