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New report shows most Australians still reluctant to take up free bowel cancer testing
Katherine O’Chee | 승인 2019.06.06 14:22

Only four in 10 Australians aged 50 to 74 take the free bowel screening test, according to a new report that shows they also remain the group most at risk of the cancer. 

The latest research released by the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program reveals more than 4 million Australians received the at-home test in a two-year period but only 41 per cent completed the test. 

Figures were the lowest for people aged 50 to 54, with just three in 10 returning their screening tests when it was mailed to them.  

Cancer Council Australia CEO, Sanchia Aranda, said these numbers are “alarming” to see. 

“Turning 50 can be a landmark year and we want to remind this group that your risk of bowel cancer increases with age, so it is important to get tested even if you feel healthy and have no symptoms,” Ms Aranda said. 

The test involves collecting and sending back two poo samples. Blood in poo can be a sign of pre-cancerous lesions and cancers in the early stages, both of which often don’t have any symptoms. 

Ms Aranda said many are deterred by the myth that the test is unpleasant. 

“The latest data is a reminder that doing a bowel cancer screening test shouldn’t be seen as an unusual thing to do,” Ms Aranda said. 

“We need to normalise the bowel screening test and make sure everyone understands the test is quick, hygienic and you can complete it in the comfort of your own home.

“Of those who had completed the test before – 78% completed the test when they received it the next time around. Once you have done the test once – you realise how simple it is,” she added. 

The report notes bowel cancers diagnosed at stage 1 have a survival rate of 99 per cent, while the likelihood of survival for those with stage 4 bowel cancer drops down to 13 per cent. 

Cancer Council research also shows up to 84,000 lives could be saved by 2040 if screening rates rose to six in 10 Australians.

“The test could quite literally save your life,” Ms Aranda said. 

Katherine O’Chee  edit@hanhodaily.com

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