Australia has one of the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the world and is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (after lung cancer and breast cancer). Several risk factors have been identified which may contribute to bowel cancer.1 These risk factors include, modified risks i.e., excess body fat, physical inactivity, poor diet (e.g. high consumption of processed meats), high alcohol consumption and smoking. As well as risk such as family history and genetic susceptibility, and exposure to ionising radiation.1
Australia commenced an organised program of colorectal (bowel) cancer population screening in 2006, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP). Indicators of the performance of this Program include the proportion of positive FOBT cases having a follow-up diagnostic assessment (colonoscopy), and the elapsed time between a positive FOBT and the assessment.1 It is desirable that follow-up diagnostic assessments occur in a timely manner, thus minimising potential harms from delayed diagnosis and treatment.1 This indicator should not be considered a hospital wait time indicator, as there are various steps, decisions and wait times in the pathway between a positive screen and a diagnostic assessment.
It should be noted that the reporting of colonoscopies to the NBCSP is not mandatory and there is an unknown degree of under-reporting that may affect the data. The data shown in this analysis are based on information recorded in the Program Register only. Caution is advised when using this data as it may not reflect the true population.