But a pioneering procedure is changing how surgeons fight the disease.
Hobart is one of just two Australian cities to introduce a world-leading new surgical procedure known as single-port.
Calvary Health Care colorectal surgeon Emilio Mignanelli was involved in two of the first three cases performed worldwide while working at the Cleveland Clinic in the United States.
Since returning to Hobart 12 months ago he has completed 15 single-port surgeries and the world's first study comparing post-operative results between the new technique and traditional laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery.
He said his single-port patients' hospital stay was greatly reduced, they experienced less pain and inflammation, a smaller scar and a faster recovery.
Nearly three-quarters of his patients were home within three days instead of eight.
"By the end of the year I'll be offering this surgery to most people who need bowel surgery," Dr Mignanelli said.
The technique uses one small incision to remove bowel cancer, compared with keyhole surgery that requires five abdominal incisions.
Dr Mignanelli said one in 20 Tasmanians will be diagnosed with bowel cancer, the second most common cancer.
Calvary CEO Michael Krieg said single-port surgery allowed the hospital to better fight bowel cancer while improving patient care.
He said at-risk groups include people over 50 and those with a family history of bowel cancer.
"There's no defined reason why our state has a higher rate of a whole range of illnesses, including bowel cancer," Mr Krieg said.
He hoped more people would get tested using the bowel cancer screening program.
Steps towards reducing bowel cancer risk include:
• Reduce fat intake.
• Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals.
• Drink alcohol only moderately, if at all.
• Don't smoke.