If you’re aged between 50 and 74, Bowel Cancer Month is your chance to make sure you’re up to date with your two-yearly bowel cancer screening test. It’s also a great opportunity for all South Australians to get empowered and learn how to cut their bowel cancer risk.
Bowel cancer is a big problem.
It’s the second leading cause of cancer death in South Australia, claiming over 400 lives each year. While there can be some symptoms, it may develop without them, particularly in the early stages when treatment is much more likely to be successful.
There is plenty we can do to help South Australians reduce their risk.
Bowel cancer is one of the few cancers which we have a reliable screening method to detect early stages of cancer or pre-cancerous growths. Up to 90 per cent of bowel cancers can be successfully treated if caught early, and the best way to do that is with the simple but life-saving Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT). A FOBT detects invisible signs of blood in your stool, which can be a symptom of bowel cancer.
Eligible people aged 50 - 74 are sent a free home test kit to the address on their Medicare card every two years.
Tests have continued to be posted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as long as mail is still being delivered to the local area. Unfortunately, just over half of South Australians who receive the kit in the mail don’t complete it, which means there’s still more work to be done. If you haven’t completed your test yet, Bowel Cancer Month is the time to take action.
It’s also important to remember….
If you have a family history of bowel cancer or are experiencing symptoms such as blood in stool or on toilet paper, unexplained weight loss or signs of anaemia, you should make an appointment to see your GP as soon as you can—don’t wait to receive your test in the mail or think that you’re too young, as bowel cancer can happen to people under 50 as well. If you are under 50 you may not be eligible for the free kit but speak to your GP or Aboriginal Health Practitioner about the FOBT.
COVID-19 and bowel cancer screening.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program has not been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that homes test kits and results are still being sent in the mail. If you would like to know if you are eligible, when your test kit will arrive, or require a replacement, we encourage you to get in touch with the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program on 1800 118 868. Alternatively, you can talk with your GP or Aboriginal Health Practitioner about bowel cancer screening.
Now more than ever, it’s important to make your health a priority. Completing your FOBT is just one way that you can make sure that you are putting your health first.
For more information on the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and to view a video on how to do the test video visit this page.
There are also simple lifestyle changes we can all make to reduce our bowel cancer risk.
Bowel cancer risk can be influenced by a range of lifestyle choices. These lifestyle choices won’t determine if you will or won’t develop bowel cancer, but research suggests that they can help reduce your risk. For many of us, there are simple improvements we can make every day that can make a huge difference to our overall health.
Eating a healthy diet high in fibre, limiting red meat intake, limiting or avoiding processed meat, doing regular physical activity, limiting or abstaining from alcohol, being smoke free and maintaining a healthy weight are all ways to reduce your bowel cancer risk.
By educating and empowering yourself, your patients, colleagues and/or loved ones, you’ll be helping to reduce the stigma of bowel cancer and save countless lives.