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Active Retirees : Active Retirees Oct-Nov 2012
36 | www.probussouthpacific.org “The problem with bowel cancer is that often there are no clear symptoms,” explains Dr McCoy. Warning signs can include ongoing changes in bowel habits, bleeding or blood in the toilet bowel, feeling like you haven’t emptied your bowel completely, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss and fatigue, and low iron count or anaemia. If you do experience any symptoms, it is crucial that you see your doctor. Frighteningly, Australian research has found that 20 per cent of adults aged 56 to 88 years who had changes to their bowel habits didn’t visit their doctor because they assumed it wasn’t serious. It is. Screen to survive Bowel cancer is the second most fatal form of cancer in Australia, behind lung cancer. If it’s detected early, there’s a 90 per cent survival rate. If it’s detected late, the chances are lowered to seven per cent. The way to catch it early is screening. “We have proof that we can prevent deaths via screening,” says Associate Professor Eva Segelov, Chair of Clinical Oncological Society of Australia’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Group and medical oncologist. The problem is that 60 per cent of people receiving free screening kits from the government aren’t doing it. “Bowel Cancer Australia has researched why people aren’t screening – it’s because they’re embarrassed,” reveals Wiggins. “You can do the test in private at home and you don’t have to tell anyone. But don’t sit on your symptoms, talk to your GP,” he says. “Your GP has heard it all,” explains Dr McCoy. “When you visit your doctor, you have permission to talk about anything.” Screening can be done at home using a Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT). You take samples from two separate bowel motions and then send it to a lab where it’s checked for traces of blood. Results are mailed to you and your GP and further testing will be arranged if necessary. The screening tests have a 90 per cent success rate of detecting abnormalities in your system. “The beauty of screening is that the test notices the early signs of bowel cancer before you do,” Chair of Cancer Council’s Bowel Cancer Screening Committee Anita Tang health Just because there are no obvious changes, you may not necessarily be in the clear. tips to Reduce youR Risk top 5 1 Screen, screen, screen. Screening should be done every two years. If you receive a kit from the National Bowel Screening Program, use it. If you’re over 50 but don’t fall under the current screening program, ask your GP, pharmacist or health insurance fund for an FOBT test. To obtain a kit call the program t: 1800 118 868 2 Talk to family members about their health history. If a close relative has had bowel cancer your risk factor increases, so inform your GP. 3 See your GP if something changes with your bowel health or if you’re unsure about whether changes matter. 4 Eat a diet high in fibre with plenty of fresh fruit and vegies. Limit red meat, particularly processed meat products. 5 Lead an active life, exercise regularly and keep your weight down.
Active Retirees Aug-Sept 2012
Active Retirees Dec-Jan 2013