LETTER: Take the test
JUNE is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, an opportunity for us to prevent bowel cancer and detect it early.
About 3000 Queenslanders will be diagnosed with bowel cancer this year, and, tragically, 1000 will die from the disease.
Only about one in three eligible Queenslanders complete the free National Bowel Cancer Screening test, even though it kills nearly three Queenslanders every day.
In fact, bowel cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Queensland, but the second biggest cancer killer.
It's vital that all eligible Queenslanders complete the test - when detected early, bowel cancer is curable in about 90 per cent of cases.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is currently inviting men and women turning 50, 55, 60, 64, 65, 70, 72 and 74 to screen for bowel cancer. Participants are sent a free, easy to use screening kit that can be completed at home.
Estimates show a total of 83,800 bowel cancer deaths could be prevented by 2040 if National Bowel Cancer Screening Program participation reaches 60% by 2020 and is sustained.
In addition to screening, it's important to be aware of changes in bowel habits and bodily functions.
Symptoms can include rectal bleeding such as blood in the stool, a change in bowel movements, lack of energy, unexplained weight loss or lack of appetite, and persistent cramping or abdominal pain.
While the presence of these symptoms does not necessarily mean a person has bowel cancer, the warning signs should not be ignored, and warrant urgent medical advice from a GP or specialist.
Queenslanders can reduce their risks by adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as eating healthily and maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake and being active.
Please share this important message with your loved ones - early detection saves lives.
When you receive your free screening kit in the mail - take part. If we improve participation rates in Queensland we can save many lives.
PROFESSOR JEFF DUNN, CANCER COUNCIL QUEENSLAND CEO