DESPITE bowel cancer being almost 100 per cent preventable if detected early, less than half of us are being screened for it.
Only 42.4 per cent of Campaspe Shire residents aged between 50 and 74 complete the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program home test, according to new data.
Although our figures are slightly better than the state average of 40 per cent, it is far from pleasing.
Campaspe also falls in the middle of screening rates across Victoria’s geographical regions, which range between 51.2 per cent (Gippsland East) and 32.5 per cent (Casey South).
The new data coincides with the launch of a new Victoria-wide bowel screening campaign.
The campaign could see more than 20,000 extra Victorians screening for bowel cancer, which can detect the disease at an early stage, even when there are no symptoms and avoid the need for extended chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Cancer Council Victoria chief executive Todd Harper said bowel cancer was our second biggest cancer killer, claiming the lives of more than 1300 Victorians each year.
‘‘Bowel cancer kills four times more Victorians than road accidents,’’ Mr Harper said.
‘‘This is a real tragedy because many of these cancer deaths are preventable, in fact if you detect bowel cancer at stage 1 or 2, you have a 98 per cent to 90 per cent chance of survival respectively, but too many people are ignoring the free and simple test mailed to our homes.’’
‘‘Compared to the impact of a diagnosis on our immediate families and the long-term mental and physical toll of advanced cancer treatment, doing the test is easy.’’
Cancer Council hopes this campaign will increase participation to 50 per cent.
‘‘If you’re aged over 50 and receive the free bowel cancer screening test in the mail, do it. It could save your life,’’ Mr Harper said.
For information, visit www.cancervic.org.au/bowel