Uptake of free bowel testing among the lowest in Hume Featured

Tuesday, 03 November 2015 00:00 Written by  Published in Australia News
Devika Jayawardene, pictured with her children, Vikuman, 22, and Nuwani, 20, is living proof of the value of early cancer diagnosis. Devika Jayawardene, pictured with her children, Vikuman, 22, and Nuwani, 20, is living proof of the value of early cancer diagnosis. Picture: Carmelo Bazzano

HUME residents are putting themselves at greater risk of bowel cancer with less than one third of those aged 50 to 65 using free screening kits mailed to their home.

The small uptake of only 32.2 per cent makes Hume the second worst in the state for participation in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, according to latest statistics.

The Seeing Red report found that only 37.6 per cent of eligible Victorians took part in the program between July 2013 and June 2014.

Cancer Council Victoria chief executive Todd Harper said the data was concerning, particularly given bowel cancer was the second-biggest cancer killer of Victorians.

“Many people are literally throwing these free, non-intrusive and effective bowel screening kits into the too hard basket,” Mr Harper said.

“We are seeing large variance in people taking part in this free program across the state, with Melbourne residents putting themselves at greater risk of this preventable cancer by not screening.”

 

Nine in 10 bowel cancers cases can be successfully treated with early detection.

Cancer Council Victoria screening manager Kate Broun said the kit was simple to use and accurate at detecting bowel cancer risk.

“The faecal occult blood test (FOBT) kit should be the first step to all Australians aged 50 to 74 without symptoms or family history to screen for bowel cancer,” Ms Broun said.

“We recommend screening every two years, so even if you are not yet eligible to receive a free kit, you should see your doctor to make sure you get tested.”

The FOBT looks for tiny amounts of blood, invisible to the naked eye, in two small samples of bowel motions. Blood in the stool may be an early sign of cancer. Follow up tests are required after a positive result before a diagnosis of cancer.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program began in 2006 and has been progressively expanding the age groups invited to participate. By 2020, all Australians aged 50 to 74 will be invited to participate every two years.

“The FOBT kit is a very accurate identifier of bowel cancer risk; it picks up 83 per cent of bowel cancer cases in the first round of screening alone,” Ms Broun said.

Anyone aged 50-74 who does not receive a free kit in the mail can call the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program on 1800 118 868 or inquire with their doctor.

 

EARLY DETECTION THE KEY

DEVIKA Jayawardene will be eternally grateful that her bowel cancer was picked up in time to be treated.

The 53-year-old from Greenvale didn’t have any symptoms or family history of the disease, rarely ate meat, didn’t smoke and didn’t drink alcohol.

But three years ago she completed a FOBT (faecal occult blood test) at home.

“My husband is six months older than me, so I told him to do the test but thought it was only fair for me to do it, too,” Mrs Jayawardene said.

But she still didn’t realise the danger she was in, even after receiving a positive notification in the mail.

“I didn’t understand what the positive (test) meant. Then my GP called me and, after further tests, I was told I had bowel cancer. It was a life-changing moment”.

Mrs Jayawardene said everyone around her was affected.

“Initially my husband and son were in denial. Our two children (Vikuman and Nuwani, pictured) had to grow up fast and take responsibility to look after their mother.

“I am very grateful to our friends who fed the family for a year as well as taking the time to take me for many hospital visits and be with me through the tough times.”

Mrs Jayawardene now wants to encourage others to complete the FOBT test when it is mailed to them.

“Don’t take a chance. If you can find it before cancer grows there is treatment,” she said.

“I want to get the word out (that) bowel cancer can be treatable, especially in my community.

“In Sri Lanka, we think of having cancer as getting a death sentence.

“I am eternally grateful that I chose to do the FOBT when I did. I’m so thankful for the FOBT and Cancer Council’s guidance, otherwise I wouldn’t be here today.”.

 

Source & Credits : http://www.heraldsun.com.au/

 

 

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Last modified on Tuesday, 03 November 2015 23:36
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