Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in Western Australia, so we are shining a light on why bowel cancer screening is so important.
Bowel cancer often develops without any symptoms and can grow in the bowel for years before spreading to other parts of the body. Bowel cancer can occur at any age, but the risk increases significantly from the age of 50.
Screening for bowel cancer is incredibly important as the screening test can help find bowel cancer before you notice any symptoms. If found in the early stages, treatment is much more likely to be successful.
Here are four things you might not know about bowel cancer screening:
1. Australia has a free national screening program
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) is funded by the Australian federal government to help Australians check for bowel cancer in its early stages. The NBCSP sends free home test kits to Australians aged 50-74 with a listed address on the Medicare registry or Veterans Card. Eligible Australians will be sent an invitation to screen every two years from when they turn 50. You can order a free replacement kit if yours has expired or gone missing.
2. The simple home test kit could save your life.
Bowel cancer often develops with no symptoms and if left untreated, can spread to other areas of the body. The test kits are designed to detect small amounts of blood in your poo. If blood is detected, then further tests are required (usually a colonoscopy) which is used to diagnose many bowel conditions including bowel cancer. Bowel cancer screening is the best chance of finding a bowel cancer in its very early stages. When detected early, more than 9 out of 10 bowel cancers can be treated successfully. That’s why this home screening test is so valuable – now is the time to tick bowel screening off your to-do list.
3. Bowel screening really is easy!
People are often surprised by how quick, simple, and hygienic the test kit is. What’s best is you can complete the test in the comfort and privacy of your own toilet! All you need to do is collect a small sample of two consecutive poos and return them in the reply-paid envelope to the laboratory for testing. The test kit comes with step-by-step instructions but there is also a Test Kit Helpline if you need any further help. Your results will be sent to you and your nominated doctor in the mail about two weeks after you post your samples. Make sure you put the kit somewhere close to the toilet, so it’s easy to reach when you are ready to use it.
4. Your loved ones are more likely to complete the test if you encourage them.
Now you know how important bowel cancer screening is, you can help spread the word and encourage your eligible friends and family to complete the test kit. They might just need a gentle nudge and it could save their life!