Toilet humour can make kindergarten children giggle but for Australians over the age of 50, bowel cancer is a serious issue. It is the second most common cause of cancer related deaths in Australia (after lung cancer) and while it kills more Australians each year than breast or prostate cancer, early detection through screening can vastly improve survival rates.
BowelScreen Australia® was launched nationally on 4 June 2010, making bowel screening available in community pharmacies across Australia. BowelScreen Australia® is a pharmacy-based bowel cancer awareness, education and screening program and is a collaboration between Bowel Cancer Australia and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, with the support of Enterix Australia.
“Community pharmacists, as the most accessible healthcare providers, are ideally placed to take an active role in the delivery of preventative health initiatives such as this important screening program,” Paul Sinclair, community pharmacist and National Councillor of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said.
BowelScreen Australia® recommends bowel cancer screening every 1 to 2 years for average risk patients. These include men and women aged 50 years and over; with no symptoms; and with no personal or family history of bowel cancer or polyps.
“Bowel cancer claims the lives of 77 Australians every week, making it our second biggest cancer killer. Yet it is one of the most preventable, treatable and beatable of cancers, particular when caught early.” Julien Wiggins, CEO, Bowel Cancer Australia said.
“The aim of this community program is to find any polyps or to find cancer early when it is easier to treat and cure, ultimately saving lives.” Mr Wiggins said.
If you have current symptoms or a personal/family history you should speak to your doctor.
BowelScreen Australia® involves you purchasing a test kit from your local pharmacy. You complete the test at home and return it to the manufacturer, Enterix Australia, which undertakes the pathology analysis. The results of analysis are sent back you and your nominated doctor. An annual reminder is provided to patients to visit their local pharmacy for rescreening.
Positive results from bowel screening programs do not confirm the presence of bowel cancer but it does indicate the presence of blood that may be invisible to the naked eye in your bowel movement. This may be an early warning sign. You should speak to your doctor who will initiate further investigation such as a colonoscopy.
If you have received a free screening kit from the Australian Government, you are encouraged to complete that test. The Government Program is limited to people turning 50, 55 and 65 only. Australians who are ineligible for the Government program may purchase a BowelScreen Australia® test kit from their local pharmacy for annual screening.
BowelScreen Australia® test kits can be obtained in one of the following ways: