Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer. However, we know that 90 per cent of bowel cancer cases could be successfully treated if caught early.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) is an Australian Government screening program that aims to save lives by detecting the early signs of bowel cancer.
As a part of the NBCSP, all Australians aged 50 to 74 are mailed a free at-home bowel screening test every two years. This test is simple, quick and hygienic. Most importantly, it could save your life.
The bowel cancer screening kit uses a faecal occult blood test (FOBT), which can detect the early warning signs of bowel cancer in people who do not have any noticeable symptoms.
After his 50 th birthday, Erik Carapetian received the bowel screening kit in the mail. Erik said that doing this simple test straight away may have saved his life.
“I usually wouldn’t have bothered, but something prompted me to do the test straight away. The test results came back positive, so my GP immediately sent me for a colonoscopy,” Erik said.
“The procedure detected a tumour, and I booked in for surgery. Within a week of diagnosis, they removed the tumour.
“The diagnosis left me stunned. I couldn’t see this coming as I’m healthy, active, a non-smoker, and had no symptoms. I had recently turned 50, and I felt like I was too young to worry about bowel cancer.
“If I hadn’t done the test and the tumour not been detected, I probably would have found out once I had symptoms which could have been too late.”
Erik encourages Australians over 50 to take part in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and do the simple at-home test.
“It’s such a simple and well-designed test. I would recommend doing the test to give you peace of mind. Plus, it might save your life – it saved mine,” he said.
If you’re eligible and have not received a kit, call the National Cancer Screening Register on 1800 627 701. Alternatively, you can order a kit online online here: www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/national-bowel-cancer-screening-program
If you’re younger than 50 or over 74 and concerned about bowel cancer, have a family history of bowel cancer, or if you have any symptoms, please talk to your doctor or call Cancer Council on 13 11 20.