IT'S the silent killer that claimed 28 Gympie lives in five years.
It doesn't discriminate and it can strike at any time.
Fresh Federal Department of Health data shows 28 Gympie residents died from bowel cancer between 2008 and 2012.
But a new campaign aims to turn the tide on this deadly scourge as medical experts implore the region's residents to fight back before it's too late.
Dr Graham Newstead, one of Australia's leading bowel surgeons, said it was the country's second deadliest cancer.
"When found early, 90% of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated," the International Council of Coloproctology chairman said.
"Despite this, our research suggests that people do not prioritise testing for the disease in the same way they would for other common cancers."
The disease is more common in people aged over 50 and those who have lost a family member to the cancer.
However, people under 50 who do not have a genetic link are also at risk. If discovered early enough, the cancer can be removed without the need for chemotherapy or other treatments.
Bowel Cancer Australia chief Julien Wiggins said research showed men and women were more likely to be screened for cancers of the prostate or breast.
"People need to be bowel aware," Mr Wiggins said.
"Bowel cancer often develops without any warning signs.
"Regardless of family history, from age 50, all Australians are at an increased risk."