Don’t throw out the bowel cancer screening test 412



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The Government has stepped up to the plate in the prevention of Bowel Cancer and has been sending out free, at home, Bowel Cancer screening tests to eligible Australians but so far, two thirds of people are throwing them away rather than taking them.  Currently, Australians aged 50, 55, 60 70 and 74 are eligible for an at-home bowel cancer screening test, and it is expected to save up to 90,000 lives in Australia over the next forty years the research is showing, but this relies on people taking the test.  Would you take a free at-home bowel cancer screening test if it came to your home?

The test, called a faecal occult blood test (FOBT) is a simple test you can do at home that looks for traces of blood in a bowel motion. It involves taking samples from two or three bowel motions using a test kit. These are analysed at a pathology laboratory. If blood is detected, further tests may be conducted.    Health Minister Sussan Ley says it is a high priority and that by  2020, all Australians aged 50 to 74 would receive a free, at home bowel cancer screening kit every two years.

When you are 50, 55, 60 70 and 74, you will be sent an invitation to screen from the Australian Government, which will include an FOBT kit. All you have to do is complete the test, then put in an envelope and send it back.  The most important part of the message is that for the success rates of the program to be high, people must complete the tests, say the Cancer Council representatives.

Health Minister Sussan Ley said new fast tracking of the screening program means all Australians aged 50 to 74 would receive a free, at home bowel cancer screening kit every two years by 2020.

“The kit is simple and discreet to use in the privacy of your own home,” she said.

“We need more people completing their testing kits as bowel cancer often has no symptoms and early detection saves lives.”

Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the second biggest cause of cancer death in Australia.

It can occur in any part of the colon or rectum, either growing from the inner lining of the bowel or from small growths on the bowel wall called adenomas or polyps.

Undetected, bowel cancer can spread into the wall of the bowel, the lymph nodes (glands) and then to other organs.

If you are 50 or over, you are at higher risk. But if detected early, 90% of bowel cancers are cured.

Have you received one of these kits in the mail?  Did you complete it?  Would you complete it if you received one? 

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Why would you not do it? How much easier could it be? Free, at home, drop in the mail; nothing to it.

  2. Yes, have completed the government sponsored test, and now pay to be sent a yearly test. So easy and worth the tiny effort, after seeing the trauma friends with bowel cancer have experienced.

  3. We have lived in the same house 39 years and haven’t ever received a free bowel cancer screening test at any point. We have however gone to our Dr and requested them. Oct 2013 was the last time. I might say, once it is described to you, Doing it really is as simple as shit. It is very easy and not the horrible thing you are picturing in your mind.

  4. I posted mine off and then another kit arrived saying the first test sample was faulty. Then a third kit arrived saying the second sample was faulty. Third time I got the all clear. In each case I followed the instructions. Could people be being turned off by all this hassle?

    2 REPLY
    • The sample may not have been adequate. Also people should stop taking their daily aspirin a week before they take the test as my dr says it could show up as a false positive. (Also glucosamine which is an anti inflammatory).

  5. I found out I had Bowel cancer early enough to save my life , through this test , yet when my husband got one in the mail he never did it . I don’t understand this thinking.

    9 REPLY
    • Same here got my hubby one he said he just never got round to it!!! He passed away 2013 aged 53 with bowel cancer from being diagnosed to passing away took 6 months!!! Hindsight a a wonderful thing!!! Will always do mine!!!

    • Get checked privately, regularly, so send my free ones back!!! Very important not to miss!!

    • one female i know said that is rubbish we should know our bodies i told her she don’t know what she is talking about and she is SUPPOSED to be a nurse

    • That’s not true Cheryl because I didn’t have any symptoms at all…….. In hindsight I did but they were just put down to other factors !!!!

    • Karen, I think you should re-read Cheryl’s post. She was criticising the female nurse. (I miss a phrase sometimes too, and that’s easy enough to do..) Congratulations on your remission!

  6. After not bothering to do the test for 6 months….i finally did it and sent away. test came back positive for blood. no great worry, i said to my wife…..other than that no other symptoms……finally had colonoscopy done and would have bet anyone i was all clear! 3 polyps removed….1 was a very big one, which was cancer……tests confirmed cancer hadnt spread at all. Doctor said for me to buy a lottery ticket! Im very lucky!….got another colonoscopy in 6 months time, to check still all clear. very happy now, that i went through with it all. 🙂

    1 REPLY

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