Community Awareness and Understanding of Bowel Cancer
The ‘yuck factor’ is continuing to cost lives with more than three-quarters (76 per cent) of Australians citing ‘messy and embarrassing’ as reasons for not doing the life-saving bowel cancer screening test.The survey of community attitudes to bowel cancer screening in those aged 40-70 years also provided some good news with a massive 83 per cent of those who had taken the test, willing to re-test.
Julien Wiggins, chief executive, Bowel Cancer Australia said willingness to repeat the test is important as regular screening, at least every two years, has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer by up to one-third.
"A mere five per cent said they probably would not re-test. Clearly, perception of the test is far worse than reality."
"Many people still think about the older tests, where there is a strong yuck factor. The newer tests used by BowelScreen Australia® just require toilet water on a test card which then gets mailed for analysis."
The Australian research also found almost half (47 per cent) of the respondents still do not know enough about bowel cancer signs to take action that could either prevent it or detect it at earlier, more treatable stages.
"All age groups need to be aware of bowel cancer symptoms such as blood in the stool or a persistent change in bowel habits."
"Unfortunately, this is a consistent finding across two pieces of research conducted over five years; that’s disappointing," said Mr Wiggins.
But it’s not all bad news, particularly among the key target group for screening, as defined by medical guidelines.
"Encouragingly, our research found around 1 in 2 people aged 50-70 years had taken a bowel cancer screening test in the last couple of years."
Mr Wiggins clarified that free screening tests are available via the Government’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program for people turning 50, 55 or 65 only. For everyone else, BowelScreen Australia® test kits are available via many community pharmacies.
Bowel Cancer Awareness Week is 3-9 June and Australians are being asked to join The Bowel Movement. Just talk, test, tell.
1. Talk – help remove the embarrassment surrounding bowel cancer by talking with family and friends about signs, symptoms and testing.
2. Test – take a bowel cancer screening test, especially if you’re over 50.
3. Tell – share your family’s medical history with close relatives.
Join The Bowel Movement by pledging your support to talk, test, tell – it might just save a life.
As part of The Bowel Movement you’ll receive regular tips on the easy, practical lifestyle changes, including recipes to keep you and your bowel ship shape.
Community Awareness and Understanding of Bowel Cancer was conducted by Acuity Research on behalf of Bowel Cancer Australia in May 2012 with 1,000 respondents aged 40–70 years.