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“He told me that blood could be an indicator of something more sinister, like bowel cancer…”

“It’s scary to think what would have happened if I didn’t do the test”

Did you know that bowel cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in South Australian men? And that South Australian men have higher incidence rates for bowel cancer than women? Despite this, half of South Australian men don’t know how often they should be having a bowel screening test.

To help shine a spotlight on the importance of finding bowel cancer early, we caught up with Kingston local Tim Paget who shared his screening story and why he’s encouraging others to get screened.

I got my first bowel cancer screening test in the mail in 2018 and it came back all clear, so when I got sent the second test last year, I figured I’d get the same outcome.

But when the doctor called and asked me to see him straight away, I was worried. I booked that appointment pretty quickly. I was told that while my first sample was fine, my second sample tested positive for blood. He told me that blood could be an indicator of something more sinister, like bowel cancer, and I needed to get it checked out just to be on the safe side.

I was booked in for a follow up colonoscopy a couple of months later. It was scary, as I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be. The morning of the colonoscopy was particularly nerve-wracking, but fortunately it all went pretty well. When I woke up, the Specialist told me that they found a few polyps that they had to remove, but no cancer. It was a huge relief.

I was told that most bowel cancers start off as polyps, so who knows what would have happened if I had of left them unchecked.

You never really know what’s going on inside you, I had no symptoms, and everything felt all right so would never have noticed anything was wrong. It’s scary to think what would have happened if I didn’t do the test.”

I’m in my 60s and at my age health becomes really important. I still run the family farm in Kingston and do a lot of contract work so my income relies on me being fit and healthy. I have diabetes so am trying to look after myself as best I can, and doing the test was another way for me to do that.

My message to everyone, especially men my age, is to do the test. I find it scary to think that some new research said almost one in seven South Australians said they didn’t have an FOBT because they weren’t interested or couldn’t bothered.

It’s easy to do, it doesn’t cost you anything and it gives you peace of mind. Why wouldn’t you do it?

All Australians aged 50 or over should have a bowel cancer screening test every two years. Complete your home test kit when it arrives in the post from the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. For more information on Bowel Cancer Screening visit cancersa.org.au/spotlight-on-bowel-cancer or contact the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program on 1800 627 701.

Residents in Clare and Murray Bridge can also attend the Cancer Screening Regional Roadshows in April to find out more about cancer screening and what tests they’re eligible for. Visit cancersa.org.au/screeningaware to find when Cancer Council SA is visiting a regional location near you to raise awareness of cancer screening.

For information and support call Cancer Council SA on 13 11 20 to speak with a Cancer Nurse.