Bowel Cancer Australia is encouraging Australians to ‘join the bowel movement’ this week by visiting their local pharmacist to pick up a bowel cancer screening test, as it could ultimately save their life.

Bowel Cancer Awareness Week (June 3 – 9, 2012) aims to heighten community awareness and understanding of our country’s second biggest cancer killer – a disease that kills one Australian every two hours.

As a preface to Bowel Cancer Awareness Week, Team VIVA! lent their voice to the cause by teaming with Bowel Cancer Australia and The Pharmacy Guild of Australia on May 30, 2012 to release the country’s first concrete evidence showing that early detection through screening for bowel cancer is critical, as it correlates with an improved prognosis for this perilous yet preventable disease.

According to Professor Graeme Young from Flinders University, Adelaide who spearheaded the landmark research, “Bowel cancers detected at an early stage are highly curable, reducing the chance of death from the disease.”
Current guidelines recommend bowel screening is performed at least once every two years for people aged 50 and over. Even without symptoms or a family history, all Australians can screen for bowel cancer with tests available from their local pharmacy.

In a bid to curtail the number of Australian deaths from bowel cancer each year, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia together with Bowel Cancer Australia, run BowelScreen® Australia – a pharmacy-based bowel cancer awareness, education and screening program for the community.

“Pharmacists are positioned at the coal face of community health, as the most accessible health professionals. People who do not have any obvious symptoms of bowel cancer can talk to their local pharmacist about bowel health and bowel cancer, and obtain a screening test which they can perform in the privacy of their own home,” said National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Kos Sclavos.

Professor Adrian Polglase, specialist colorectal surgeon at Cabrini Hospital and Patron of the Let’s Beat Bowel Cancer initiative, Melbourne, who has performed more than 5,000 bowel cancer procedures during his career, has a poignant message for the Australian community.

“Don’t die from embarrassment. Get tested for bowel cancer.”

Bowel Cancer from VIVA! Communications on Vimeo.

So what is bowel cancer?
Bowel cancer is a malignant growth that develops inside the large bowel (the colon or rectum) often caused by environmental factors such as diet, obesity and lack of exercise. Inherited factors recognisable from a family history of bowel cancer and certain bowel diseases also contribute to the chance of developing the disease.

How do you screen for bowel cancer?
Screening for bowel cancer involves testing for small amounts of blood in the bowel motion. GESA recommendeds testing every one-to-two years with an immunochemical Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) for people aged 50 and over. Available in pharmacy, this test detects hidden blood, often released from bowel cancers or their precursors (polyps or adenomas) into the bowel motion.

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