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No butts about it: stand-up comic urges Aboriginal community to screen for bowel cancer

Monday 10 September, 2018


There’s a time and a place for toilet jokes – and a stand-up comedy show about bowel cancer prevention is exactly that place.

Flushed! A coonie could save your life, performed by award-winning comedian Denise McGuinness, is touring Victoria to highlight the importance of bowel screening for the Victorian Koori community.

Bowel cancer is the second-most common cancer in the Victorian Koori community, so Ms McGuinness is hoping the coonie (pronounced ku-nee) comedy will help remove stigma around the bowel screening test.

“Delivering a health message through humour empowers our community to be able to have those difficult conversations that we would normally feel real shame about” Ms McGuinness said.

“Even if you feel deadly, bowel cancer can develop without symptoms, but 90 per cent of cases can be cured if found early. Most people are sweet, but if you’re not, chances are you can do something about it.

“There’s no shame in doing a bowel screening kit. It’s clean, you can do it in the comfort of your own home and it’s free.”

Cancer Council Victoria Aboriginal Liaison Officer Andrea Casey said bowel screening in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community is very low at only 23.5%.

“Less than a quarter of people from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community participate in bowel screening, compared to 41% of non-Aboriginal people,” Ms Casey said.

“Because of these low screening rates, Indigenous Australians also have a lower chance of surviving five years following a bowel cancer diagnosis (40% vs 52%). Encouraging more people aged 50 to 74 within the community to do the bowel screening kit is crucial to closing the gap.

“So when you receive the free, at-home bowel screening kit in the mail, do it. It could save your life.”

Cancer Council encourages Victorians 50-74 to do the home kit for bowel cancer. Eighty Australians die of bowel cancer every week, but 90% of bowel cancers could be cured if detected early

Bowel cancer can develop with no warning signs, which is why doing the kit is so important – even if you feel fine.

Need advice or help with the home test kit? Speak to your Aboriginal Health Worker, doctor, or call Cancer Council Victoria on 13 11 20

Flushed! A coonie could save your life will also be performed at:

  • Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service: 13 September at 11am
  • Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-Op, Horsham: 26 September at 3pm
  • Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-Op Harris St Reserve, Warrnambool: 27 September at 6pm
  • Morwell: 2 October (Venue and time to be confirmed)

Flushed! is part of a larger Cancer Council Victoria campaign which includes radio, print and digital advertising to increase bowel screening rates in the Victorian Aboriginal community.

The show is free for members of the Victorian Aboriginal community. To attend, please rsvp to Andrea Casey via email or phone (03) 9514 6396.

For more information about bowel cancer screening visit 

People aged 50-74 can call the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program Infoline on 1800 118 868 to find out when they will receive a free test.