Bowel cancer testing works - from the comfort of your own throne

Monday 25 May, 2015

Sports chief and bowel cancer survivor Eugene Arocca urges Australians to take the test

A free and simple at-home bowel screening test should be the first step for Australians aged 50 and over to detect the nation’s second-biggest cancer killer, a new report shows.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s 2014 Analysis of bowel cancer outcomes for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program report from the 2006 to 2008 first phase of the program shows the at-home test is a very reliable identifier of bowel cancer risk for people without symptoms or a family history of the disease.

Cancer Council Victoria Prevention Director Craig Sinclair said: “Australia is lucky that we have free access to an effective test to screen for bowel cancer.

“We are one of the first countries in the world to have a National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. This new report shows us that the national test picks up 83% of cancers in the first round of screening. This test is saving hundreds of Australian lives each year.”

The program is working to tackle some stark facts:

  • Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world.
  • Bowel cancer is the second-biggest cancer killer of men and women.
  • Every week around 80 Australians die of bowel cancer.
  • Ninety percent of bowel cancers can be cured with early detection.
  • The national test is clean, simple and performed in the privacy of your own home.

Eugene Arocca , former North Melbourne Football Club chief executive and now CEO of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport received the bowel screening kit at age 50 but put off screening until he was 54. He knew the test was important and even placed the kit near his washing basin so he could remind himself to take it whenever he needed to shave, but it seemed too difficult. When he finally saw his doctor he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Luckily, in his case, the cancer hadn’t spread to his lymph nodes and was treated through surgery.

“If you’re 50 or over, you need to do a simple bowel cancer screening test. Don’t procrastinate because I did and it nearly cost me my life,” Eugene said.

If you turn 50, 55, 60, 65, 70 or 74 years old in 2015, you will receive in the mail the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program kit to complete. By 2020, everyone aged 50 to 74 will receive a kit every two years in the mail.

For people aged over 50 and not yet eligible for the program, you should still be screened for bowel cancer every two years. You should speak with your doctor, or can purchase a kit from the Cancer Council online at cancervic.org.au or by calling 13 11 20.

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Updated: 25 May, 2015