Bowel cancer survivor Eugene Arocca is calling for men in the west to screen for bowel cancer every two years – and avoid the wake-up call he received after neglecting to do the test when he turned 50.
Bowel cancer is the second-biggest cancer killer of men and women, yet 90% of bowel cancers can be cured with early detection.
Eugene – who is CEO of the Confederation of Motor Sport and former CEO of North Melbourne Football Club – will share his story with participants of the Sons of the West initiative in Footscray this week.
Cancer Council Victoria has teamed up with the Western Bulldogs Sons of the West initiative for the second year to support men living and working in Melbourne's west to lead healthier lives and prevent cancer.
"Men sometimes think of themselves as bulletproof, maybe I had a bit of that," said Eugene in a new personal video by Cancer Council Victoria.
Eugene received a bowel screening kit at age 50 but didn't use it and ultimately was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 54 after a colonoscopy.
"I don't have many regrets in my life, but the enormous regret that I have from not doing the bowel screening test will live with me for a long, long time," he said. Luckily, in Eugene's case, the cancer hadn't spread and he 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.
A free and simple screening test should be the first step for Australians aged 50 and over to detect bowel cancer. The test called a faecal occult blood test, or FOBT can be done in your home. It is designed for people without symptoms and can reliably find early signs of bowel cancer before you realise anything is wrong.
Bowel cancer in the western suburbs:
Approximately 180 men were diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2013 and nearly 70 died from bowel cancer in 2013.
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 national 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/boweltest or by calling 13 11 20.