health matters

Update on the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

Being fifty-something means that I’ve already been invited to participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (Australia).

I’ve actually been invited twice: when I turned 50 and 55.

Lucky me: bowel cancer screening could save my life. And yours.

Did you really want to see an image related to bowel cancer screening? I thought not. Here's a bored English cat with a red bow tie instead.
Did you really want to see an image related to bowel cancer screening? I thought not. Here’s a bored English cat with a red bow tie instead.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program began in 2006 and has been progressively expanding the age groups invited to participate.

From this year, 70 and 74 year olds will be added to the program, meaning the age groups currently invited to participate are people aged 50, 55, 60, 65, 70 and 74.

By 2020, all Australians aged 50 to 74 will be invited to participate every two years

Participating is easy. You’re sent a kit, you collect tiny stool samples in the privacy of your own home and post them off to the lab for testing. It’s not nearly as icky as you might think. And it’s free. Free. All free.

Cancer Council Victoria’s Screening Manager Kate Broun says: “Research* shows that biennial screening can save up to 500 lives a year and will take pressure off the health systems.”

The risk of bowel cancer increases with age from 50 and is asymptomatic in its early stages. Bowel cancer is the most common cancer affecting both men and women but has a very high cure rate if found early. Approximately 80 Australians die each week from bowel cancer.**

I figure the screening process is a small inconvenience that’s well worth the effort. Like regular mammograms and pap tests, it’s just part of staying vigilant health-wise and giving yourself the best chance of future wellbeing.

How blessed are we to live in a place and time when we have access to health and wellbeing initiatives like the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program PLUS the kind of medical care that can respond so successfully to early detection?

Do you participate in the program when invited?

 

*Source: Pignone P.P, Flitcroft K.L et al: Costs and cost-effectiveness of full implementation of a biennial faecal occult blood test screening program for bowel cancer in Australia. MJA 2011.

**Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare & Australasian Association of Cancer Registries 2012.

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4 thoughts on “Update on the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

  1. I participated in a bowel screening program run by Rotary Clubs. I had done the annual test 3 times when I got a ‘positive’ result. I was only 54 and because the colon cancer was picked up so early, I had surgery followed by 6 months of chemotherapy and have had no further problems. To all of those people who receive the Govt kit and put it in the wardrobe to ‘do later’, get the bloody thing out and DO IT NOW! It could save your life too

  2. I would participate however I’ve actually had two colonoscopies since I turned 50 so don’t require the bowel screen. It is definitely a great preventative measure for people our age. Good reminder!

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