Big push for bowel health

Craig Sinclair is urging more to complete the free national bowel cancer test.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

People, seriously it’s time to get over your poo.

In Melbourne’s South East, just 40 per cent of eligible people are completing the free life-saving tests for bowel cancer.

It ranks below the state average.

It’s extraordinary how bad the take-up rate is – considering the test is free, conveniently done at home and so effective in detecting what is Australia’s second most deadly cancer.

Bowel cancer claims 100 lives a week. Yet in 90 per cent of early-detection cases, treatment is successful.

Even, pre-cancerous polyps can be discovered by the test and eliminated easily.

The problem is fear of the stool, says Cancer Council Victoria prevention head Craig Sinclair.

“It is about dealing with people’s poo. That is the barrier for people to take it up in the first place,” Mr Sinclair says.

It’s reassuring that 77 per cent of people who do the test will do it again when they next receive it in the mail, he said.

“This gives us confidence that once people do the test, they realise it’s not so difficult.”

Cancer survivor Mark Dunstan is proof that a full recovery is possible.

He was diagnosed at 33 years, well before the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program test began.

His cancer wasn’t discovered early. He had been in agony, and required the removal of his large bowel.

Now at 60, he’s still rolling the arm over on the cricket field.

His diet isn’t overly stringent – but for staying off rich, creamy foods.

“What I can say is you can still live a reasonably normal life.”

Cancer Council Victoria is trying to lift the uptake rate with a vast advertising campaign, including posters in Tamil, Hindi, Punjabi and Vietnamese.

Medical staff at 120 general practices in Greater Dandenong, Casey and Mornington Peninsula will be trained to encourage patients to submit their tests.

The free NBSCP test is mailed out to eligible 50-74 year olds.

Details: 13 14 50 or, and