Former Canberra Raiders captain Alan Tongue is an ambassador for NRL Kick Bowel Cancer.

As an ambassador for the NRL's 'Kick Bowel Cancer' campaign, former Raiders legend Alan Tongue has encouraged others to build awareness by starting a conversation about the disease.

As the second-biggest killer in Australia, bowel cancer is something that hits home hard for Tongue and his family and he believes more talk around bowel cancer will only be for the better moving forward.

"For me and my family personally, in 2005 my Nan was diagnosed with bowel cancer and in 2007 she passed away from it so it's something which has touched my family," Tongue told NRL.com. 

"If we can raise the awareness of it and create the conversation for people to take the test, the more likely the success people have in avoiding it or overcoming it.

"Taking nothing away from other types of cancer, I think this campaign is the NRL's little way of taking part in it. It's a concern for our nation and across the world so it's something we do need to highlight and we can do that through the NRL."

As one of the ambassadors of the campaign alongside other former stars Josh Perry and Adam MacDougall, as well as current players James Tedesco and Chris Heighington, Tongue believes the purpose of the campaign is to not only spread awareness, but also acknowledge the processes of early detection and prevention. 

"To have people aware of the signs and symptoms and early detection is the key. The earlier you get it detected the better your chances of survival are," Tongue said. 

"It's one of those taboo topics which we don't talk a lot about - I think prostate cancer was probably dealing with the same thing probably 10 or 15 years ago but the more people have talked about it the more openly it's discussed. 

"We need to keep talking about bowel cancer and hopefully we can raise awareness from it. The best outcome is to save more lives."

While the program's target demographics are men and women aged 50 years and over, Tongue agreed it was a matter for everyone – not just a particular age bracket – being aware.

Drawing from an example of children and grandchildren being informed about the perils of bowel cancer, Tongue said a multi-generational message is valuable, such is the circle of life. 

"With the numbers of people who are affected by bowel cancer it's likely that it may impact you or someone around you in your life," Tongue said.

"At the end of the day we're trying to start conversations which may even spread across generations and it's all a part of a cycle. 

"We're all getting older and we're all going to get to that stage at some point so it's a message that is important no matter how old you are."

For more information visit nrlkickbowelcancer.com.au