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  • Cancer Council campaign puts the spotlight on bowel cancer

    31 July 2014

    More South Australians aged 50 and over are expected to screen for bowel cancer, following the success over the past two months of the state’s first ever TV campaign promoting the life-saving benefits of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

    The Cancer Council advertisement, produced with Federal Government funding, has seen a massive 385 per cent surge in calls about bowel cancer to Cancer Council 13 11 20 since June (compared to the same time last year).

    Cancer Council SA Chief Executive, Professor Brenda Wilson, said the increase in calls had confirmed the need for greater community awareness around bowel cancer.

    “We’ve received an extremely strong response to the TV advertisement since June, with up to 175 calls a week coming through related to bowel cancer,” Professor Wilson said.

    “Bowel cancer is the state’s second biggest cancer killer, causing around 444 deaths per year, yet it is curable in around 90 per cent of cases if detected early.

    “This increase in calls to Cancer Council SA is significant, demonstrating the impact of awareness campaigns in activating the community to reduce their risks of cancer through screening and early detection.

    “We hope to have clarified any questions or confusion for callers around bowel cancer, ensuring more understand the screening protocols and what it means for them.”

    Currently South Australians aged 50, 55, 60 and 65 are mailed a simple faecal occult blood test that is free and can be done at home. People aged 70 and 74 will be invited in 2015, and by July 2020, everyone aged 50 to 74 will receive the test free every two years.

    “Only 4 in 10 eligible South Australians are completing the test, but even on these figures the program is set to prevent more than 5000 bowel cancer deaths in the state over the next 40 years,” Professor Wilson said. “By increasing participation we will save many more lives.

    “We now have a program that can detect early-stage cases, so it’s up to eligible South Australians to take the test and dramatically reduce their risk.

    “There is a misconception among many over-50s that they only need to be screened if they experience symptoms of bowel cancer - the message is for all who are eligible to take the test, whether you have symptoms of bowel cancer or not.

    “We encourage anyone with questions about the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, or their personal risk, to contact Cancer Council 13 11 20.”

    The ad, which featured three Australians who have lost loved ones to bowel cancer, ran over eight weeks and on current trends approximately 200 South Australians would have been diagnosed with bowel cancer during that period alone.

    Screening kits are mailed to all eligible South Australians. People aged over 50 who currently fall outside the target group, or anyone concerned about bowel cancer, should talk to their GP about bowel cancer screening.

    Alternatively, call Cancer Council on 13 11 20 to speak to a cancer nurse for information, or visit www.bowelcancer.org.au

    The TV ad can be viewed here http://www.bowelcancer.org.au/video.php

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