Bowel cancer a killer

Isis Town and Country - - Opinion -

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% 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 AO CEO Cancer Coun­cil, Qld

CEO Cancer Coun­cil Bowel cancer is the fourth most com­monly di­ag­nosed cancer in Queens­land.

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