I was surprised to receive another special present from the Australian Health Department recently. It seemed like only minutes since I had turned 52. I thought it was supposed to be a five year combined celebration, but it turns out we young middle aged folk need to have our bowels screened every 2 years now.
Bowel cancer (also known as colorectal cancer) is the third most common type of newly diagnosed cancer in Australia, and the second biggest cancer killer of Australians (5375) each year. 55% of bowel cancer diagnoses are in men, however currently only about 39% of men in the 50-74 years age range take up the screening opportunity. The risk to men in our 50's is actually 45% higher than it is for women.
The good news of course is that bowel cancer can generally be successfully treated if caught early. So don't put off using your present from the Government. It could save your life. So what are the signs and symptoms? Abdominal pain, changing bowel habits, blood in your poo or unexplained weight loss.
If you are showing any of these, or other concerning symptoms, visit your GP. For more information and support about cancers generally, visit the Cancer Council Tas website including support groups. The Cancer Council Cancer Services Directory also provides a good portal to find out more.
So if your mate is turning 50, or has an even numbered birthday - check in and see if he got his present. Anyway, what's not to like about sending a little something back to the Government?
Bowel Cancer Australia: facts