Under-used cancer test saves lives

Clare O''Reilly urges more to take a potentially life-saving test for bowel cancer.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Staggeringly few numbers in Dandenong are taking a free test to help detect the nation’s second-deadliest cancer.

Only 30 per cent of eligible people in Dandenong are taking part in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

It is significantly less than the 41 per cent state average.

The reality is that early detection saves lives.

About 90 per cent of bowel cancers are successfully treated if found early, but about 100 Australians are dying from the disease each week.

Cancer Council Victoria has launched a campaign to lift the numbers using the free bowel cancer screening kit that’s mailed to people aged 50-74 every two years.

The aim is to tailor in-language promotional material for the most under-screened communities in Dandenong, including Sri Lankans, Indians, Vietnamese and Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.

This includes radio, digital and print ads as well as posters in community centres and venues.

“It seems that some communities face barriers to screening. We are trying to overcome these,” says CCV cancer screening team manager Clare O’Reilly said.

“Some of the barriers are that people are less familiar with how to do the test itself.”

As part of the project, GPs in the region will be trained to encourage patients to take the test.

Ms O’Reilly said research showed that GPs played a key role in persuading patients to do the screening test.

the screening test looks for early warning signs before symptoms appear.

“If detected early bowel cancer is usually easy to treat.

“The test is quick, simple and you can complete it in the comfort of your own home.

“The message is simple – do the test, it could save your life.”

Details: 13 14 50 or visit www.cancervic.org.au/languages


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