Long-time bowel cancer awareness campaigner, John Singleton, was in Wagga recently calling for all men and women over 40 in the Riverina district to have a bowel cancer screening in an effort to reduce the deaths from what is actually a preventable
Following last year’s launch of the Riverina Bowel Cancer Prevention Program, The Gut Foundation and Murrumbidgee Medicare Local are now implementing the program into the community.
“Early detection is absolutely key. That’s why we’re pushing for people from the age of 40 to get screened and take action. This is the second deadliest cancer in Australia and yet the most treatable if detected early,” said Mr Singleton.
One person dies every two hours in Australia from bowel cancer and the national death toll is the highest globally. However, if the cancer is detected early, it is one of the most treatable cancers, which is why early screening is critical.
Singleton was joined by son Jack and local AFL legend Paul Kelly, who is starring in the campaign’s television commercial, which was being filmed at McPherson Oval in Wagga. The television commercial, which airs next week, aims to draw attention to the fact that not enough Australians are being screened and urges them to do so from the age of 40.
“The Riverina Bowel Cancer Prevention Program is accessible from local GPs to Riverina residents. We are calling every man and woman over 40 to visit their GP to collect a home screening kit,” Mr Singleton said.
President of The Gut Foundation Professor Terry Bolin said, “I cannot express enough the importance of early detection. We are focusing on all people aged 40 and over, which is ten years younger than the national standard for bowel cancer screening, however, isolating screening to the over-fifty bracket means missing 10% of cases. The earlier the cancer is detected, the higher the chance of survival.
“Another dangerous misconception is that bowel cancer predominantly affects men. In reality, bowel cancer affects both sexes almost equally. Almost as many females die from bowel cancer as breast cancer each year. It is something both genders need to treat seriously. This new campaign is a call to action to visit a local GP and start the screening process early,” said Bolin.
Dr Anthony Hobbs, Chair of the Murrumbidgee Medicare Local said, “Rural populations are disadvantaged when compared with urban areas in terms of their access to bowel cancer treatment. We are proud to be working with The Gut Foundation on this project”.
Professor Bolin said, “We selected Wagga as the pilot location because of its specialist treatment resources and cooperation between GPs and the Rotary regarding distribution. We hope to make this a national program and build a more comprehensive and sustainable model to combat bowel cancer”.
Former AFL super-star and Wagga local, Paul Kelly, said that he was unaware bowel cancer was a disease he should be considering at his age.
“Until I was approached by the Gut Foundation I’d never thought to be tested for bowel cancer. So I went to my GP, picked up a FBOT kit, did the test at home. I’m pleased to say I’ve been given the all clear and that I’ll be back every year to make sure I still am,” said Kelly.