By Bev Jordan
I find it quite astonishing and really sad that only 4 out 10 eligible people bother to take advantage of the free Bowel Cancer Screening kits that are delivered to people over the age of 50 every two years.
My husband David was diagnosed with bowel cancer the year that the free National Bowel Screening program began in 2006.
He went to our GP when he found tell-tale spots of blood in stools. By the time he had a colonoscopy he was Stage 4 (terminal).
Early screening is vital because by the time you get symptoms it is already too late.
It was too late to save David’s life but it could save your life or the life of someone you love because, IF caught early enough Bowel Cancer can be treated in 99% of cases.
Yes, a 99% cure rate if caught early which is why screening is so important.
That’s why I find it incredibly distressing that only 40% of people aged between 50 and 74 who receive the free test (delivered to their door) leave it in a drawer or throw it out.
According to the Cancer Council bowel cancer kills more people in NSW than prostate cancer, breast cancer or melanoma … it is the second leading cause of cancer-related death after lung cancer.
It’s cancer that affects both men and women in almost equal numbers, 54 % of people diagnosed with Bowel Cancer are male and 46% are women.
But, if detected early, bowel cancer can be successfully treated in more than 99% of cases.
Erik Carapetian received the bowel screening test in the mail shortly after his 50th birthday and did the test straight away, even though he was healthy, active, didn’t smoke and had no symptoms The test came back positive and Erik’s GP sent him for a colonoscopy which detected a tumour.
Erik was booked in for surgery and within a week of diagnosis, the tumour had been removed and was confirmed as bowel cancer. The screening test saved Erik’s life.
Bowel cancer kills over 5,000 Australians a year. If 60% of the population did their bowel screening tests instead of 40% … more than 24,000 additional lives, like Erik’s, will be saved by 2040.
June is Bowel Cancer Awareness month. My message is simple… Please take the test. Tell your family members and tell your friends and colleagues.
I have just taken mine. The early screening program came too late to save David’s life but it could save yours or someone you love.
If you have misplaced or thrown your kit away call the National Cancer Screening Register on 1800 627 701 for a replacement kit.
The Cancer Council Help Line is 13 11 20 .