24 Jun Bowel Cancer | Don’t wait until it’s too late
Did you know that one in every thirteen Australians will be diagnosed with bowel cancer in their lifetime? Did you know that bowel cancer is the country’s second deadliest cancer and that if detected early 98 per cent of cases can be successfully treated?
Timboon and District Healthcare Service (TDHS) community health nurse Amanda Nash has used Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to plead with people aged 50-74 to use their free test kits and potentially save their lives.
“These kits now arrive free of charge for people aged 50-74 and it’s just so important that people do the test,” she said.
“Bowel cancer can develop without any early warning signs. The cancer can grow on the inside wall of the bowel for several years before spreading to other parts of the body.
“A bowel cancer screening test can detect these small amounts of blood in bowel movements. People who test positively can then get the medical support they need to get a formal diagnosis and beat bowel cancer.”
Mrs Nash urged anyone who might feel awkward or uncomfortable about using the test kits to set that feeling aside and not become one of 103 Australians who die every week from bowel cancer.
“Screening using a faecal immunochemical test (FIT) is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer,” she said.
“The FIT can detect blood from pre-cancerous polyps or from early stage bowel cancer. When identified early, 98% of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated.
“The test involves placing small samples of toilet water or stool on a special card and mailing them to a pathology laboratory for analysis. It’s not a big deal, but it might save your life.”
A negative result means blood has not been detected in your samples and it is recommended that you repeat a bowel cancer screening test every 2 years. However, this does not mean that you do not have, or can never develop, bowel cancer, since some bowel cancers do not bleed or only bleed on and off. In between times, if you develop any symptoms of bowel cancer, see your GP immediately.
A positive result means blood has been detected in your samples. If blood is detected, you should contact your GP immediately to discuss the result and obtain a referral for further investigation via colonoscopy within 30 days.
The presence of blood may be due to conditions other than cancer, such as polyps, haemorrhoids, or inflammation of the bowel, but the cause of bleeding needs to be investigated.
If you are aged 50-74 and don’t receive a kit, check this online calculator or call the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program Information Line on 1800 118 868 to see when you will.