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  • South Australians urged to take life-saving bowel test

    01 June 2014

    Loved ones share stories of lives lost in new ad

    South Australians aged 50 and over are being urged to screen for bowel cancer, with the launch of the state’s first ever TV campaign promoting the life-saving benefits of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

    Developed by Cancer Council with funding from the Australian Government, the campaign follows a federal budget announcement that the free screening program will be fully implemented by July 2020 and offered to everyone aged 50 and over, every two years.

    Currently South Australians aged 50, 55, 60 and 65 are invited to screen by completing a simple faecal occult blood test that can be done at home. People aged 70 and 74 will be invited in 2015, with the remaining gaps in program coverage filled by July 2020.

    General Manager of Cancer Control at Cancer Council SA, Dr Marion Eckert, said bowel cancer was the state’s second biggest cancer killer, causing around 444 deaths per year, yet it was curable in around 90 per cent of cases if detected early.

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

    Dr Eckert said that the ad would run over eight weeks and that on current trends, approximately 200 South Australians would be diagnosed with bowel cancer during that period alone.

    “Greater program participation would lead to more cases being found, at an earlier stage when treatment is most effective,” she said.

    Cancer Council SA Ambassador and bowel cancer survivor, John Clements, said that early detection is the key in beating the disease.

    “My mother had bowel cancer and it was only through her constant pressure that I went and had a colonoscopy and got tested,” Mr Clements said.

    “I’d had no symptoms but the test revealed I had an advanced tumour and I then underwent treatment. My experience encouraged many other male and female friends and relatives to get tested.

    “There is no excuse not to participate in this national screening program. With early detection being so important it could easily save your life.”

    The ad features three Australians who have lost loved ones to bowel cancer.

    “We are extremely grateful to those who spoke about their loss in the hope that similar tragedies can be avoided,” Dr Eckert added. “As with all cancers, it’s not just the individual diagnosed with bowel cancer but also the grieving loved ones who can be profoundly affected.“

    It can be even more devastating for a cancer like bowel cancer, which is easy to treat if found early. 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.”

    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 and to order a test kit, or visit www.bowelcancer.org.au

    The campaign will go to air from this Sunday 1 June.

    Watch the video here http://www.bowelcancer.org.au/video.php or listen to the radio community service announcement here http://bit.ly/1jW7non

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