Testing for bowel cancer is a simple five-minute process, but is often not done because of laziness or ignorance of the disease.
Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and Men’s Health Week this week is the time to stop putting off the life-saving test.
Bowel cancer is increasing, with 17004 people (9294 men and 7709 women) expected to be diagnosed in Australia this year, compared to 6986 in 1982.
Men are more likely to be diagnosed with and die from bowel cancer. They are also less likely than women to complete the screening.
Bowel cancer is potentially one of the most preventable cancers through the early detection of abnormalities from screening.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is free for people aged 50 to 74 to screen for bowel cancer using a simple test at home.
‘‘Australians are so lucky to have access to free health screening programs aimed at preventing life-threatening diseases,’’ community health nurse Andrea McColl said.
‘‘When you receive your kit in the mail, don’t hide it in the bottom drawer. Instead make it a priority. Complete the simple test and put it in the post — it could save your life.’’
Lifestyle risk factors for bowel cancer include being overweight, lack of physical activity, inadequate dietary fibre, high intake of some foods such as processed meat, high alcohol consumption and smoking.
Other risk factors include a personal history of bowel polyps and family history of bowel cancer.
To promote the simple, effective ways of preventing bowel cancer, Cobram District Health staff will be visiting shops in Cobram with their friend ‘Mapple’ on Wednesday, June 20, giving people information about preventing bowel cancer and free apples.
‘‘Bowel cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and people of all ages can take action to reduce their risk,’’ Ms McColl said.
●If you want to get on top of it early, you can buy a cancer kit at Amcal Pharmacy.
For information about the National Bowel Screening Program, visit www.cancerscreening.gov.au/bowel or phone 1800118868.