Origin greats Petero Civoniceva and Geoff Toovey team up for bowel cancer awareness

Jun 08, 2022
The two NRL greats joined Minister for Health, Mark Butler and Cancer Council CEO, Professor Tanya Buchanan to encourage Aussies to take a toilet break during Origin's half-time break and complete the screening test. Source: Getty Images.

With the 2022 State of Origin set to kick off on Wednesday, June 8, Origin greats Petero Civoniceva and Geoff Toovey have put their sporting rivalry aside to team up and encourage eligible Australians to participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Each year, about 15,500 Australians are diagnosed with bowel cancer and although it is most common in people over 50, it can develop at any age.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program aims to reduce death and illness from bowel cancer by detecting the early signs of the disease.

The free test kit is sent to all Australians between the age of 50 and 74, every 2 years. The simple test can be performed in the comfort of your own home and can be sent directly to the pathologist so they can detect any blood in your stool sample. The test kit includes clear instructions on how to perform the screening which involves collecting 2 tiny stool samples from 2 separate bowel movements.

Civoniceva and Toovey joined Minister for Health, Mark Butler and Cancer Council CEO, Professor Tanya Buchanan to encourage Aussies to take a toilet break during Origin’s half-time break and complete the screening test to help save lives from bowel cancer while highlighting how crucial the screening program is in regards to early intervention and ensuring a greater chance of successful treatment.

Civoniceva said he was happy to put the traditional Origin rivalry aside for an important cause.

“When it comes to Origin time, it’s not often the blue and maroon states see eye to eye, but in the case of bowel cancer, we’re happy to work together to encourage more Aussies to take the test,” he said.

Toovey shared Civoniceva’s sentiments regarding the importance of the screening program, but couldn’t help taking a friendly jab at his rugby rival.

“The National Bowel Cancer Screening test is simple and takes less than a couple of minutes – much quicker than Petero can run the length of a footy field these days,” Toovey said.

“There’s no rivalry when it comes to bowel cancer, Australia’s second biggest cancer killer – we all want to beat it. So why wouldn’t you want to give yourself peace of mind by taking a test that is simple, easy and free?”

Minister Butler stressed how important it was for more eligible Australians to do the free test, claiming that “if we can increase screening participation rates and help to detect bowel cancer early, we can save lives”.

“We know if participation reaches 60%, 84,000 lives could be saved by 2040 – that’s around as many people as will be in Accor Stadium on Wednesday night,” he said.

“We have partnered with Cancer Council and the NRL to help us reach people who screen at lower rates, including men in regional and remote areas.

“Nothing captures attention of NRL fans quite like State of Origin. That’s why the Australian Government is excited to work with the experts in cancer prevention and the experts in footy to promote bowel cancer screening and ultimately save lives through Aussies love for sport.”

The discussion around bowel cancer has come to the fore in June as Bowel Cancer Awareness month commences and although the month-long campaign raises awareness regarding the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia and the second leading cause of cancer-related death, it also offers a stark reminder of the importance of early intervention and prevention.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.



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