The Cancer Council have officially celebrated Barossa residents as they record one of the highest participation rates of the national bowel cancer screening programme, with 52 per cent completing their test when it is sent to them via mail.
Every two years it is recommended that people over the age of 50 complete a bowel cancer test for A symptomatic screening, which is for people who haven’t had previous colonoscopies or polyps.
Angaston Medical Centre GP, Dr Ray Goodwin has praised the residents of Barossa for their participation.
“We are happy with the participation rate,” he said.
“We really try to push it, although we have been pushing the bowel testing for years, we are fortunate in the Barossa in that any positive results we can get easy access to two surgical doctors who carry out colonoscopies and can nip off polyps.
“We don’t see many cases but that doesn’t mean it’s not important to do the test and to follow up.”
According to Cancer Council, about 14,000 new cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed in Australia each year.
The risk of being diagnosed by age 85 is 1 in 12 for men and 1 in 17 for women.
“You are wanting to diagnose the disease at an early stage so that the operation is curative,” Dr Goodwin said.
“You want to be able to catch it when its at the polyp size before it even becomes a cancer.
“It’s a pretty straight forward test to complete.
“It comes with a piece of semi-water proof paper that you place into the toilet and you do your job on it.
“The results normally take a week to two weeks to come back.
“They also send a notification to your normal GP to advise them that they have had the test.
“It’s been so successful I have now abandoned doing the re-calls myself because before it became part of the routine, we used to have to carry out the re-calls ourselves and poke people to have their test done.
“But the whole programme runs so well it’s not necessary.”
High participation rates in the Barossa comes as new Cancer Council data have displayed that the Australian Government funded Cancer Council National Bowel Screening Campaign in 2019, was responsible for 93,000 people nationally completing the test.
Chief Executive of Cancer Council SA, Mr Lincoln Size said bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer, claiming the lives of around 100 Australians each week.
“Thankfully however, we have a screening test that can detect these cancers early, often before symptoms arise,” he said.
“The extra 93,000 tests completed equates to 860 cancers being prevented and 470 lives saved over the next 50 years.
“Locals in the Barossa who have completed their bowel screening test deserve a pat on the back and we would encourage everyone to talk to their friends and family who are aged 50-74 and ask them if they’ve done their test – talking about poo isn’t taboo when it could save your life.”
Whilst the discussion about poo and completing the test may be uncomfortable for some, Dr Goodwin encouraged those to ‘get over it, and get it done’.
“It’s better to be safe,” he said.
“As I said, with the paper you put into the toilet, it’s no difference than doing your poo on a normal day.
“The only difference is your doing it on the paper and you get out your little toothpick, give it a few pokes and that’s it.
“It’s not difficult, and nothing to be embarrassed about.”
According to Dr Goodwin, bowel cancer is a lifestyle disease that can be prevented by keeping up with regular exercise and a healthy diet.