People are being urged to overcome their distaste for bowel cancer screening as figures show that two of every three people in Hobsons Bay and Maribyrnong threw away free testing kits mailed to them in 2013 and 2014.
Cancer Council Victoria representatives, Health Minister Jill Hennessy and Altona North GP Mukesh Haikerwal released figures last week for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program for people from 50-65 who completed and returned the free kits.
The Cancer Council’s Kate Broun said the faecal occult blood test, which detects microscopic amounts of blood in faeces, picked up 83 per cent of bowel cancer cases.
Dr Haikerwal said the biggest obstacle to people completing the testing kits was that people didn’t like taking their samples.
“It’s not that hard and maybe we should just get our shit together,” he said. “In [Melbourne’s west] we do have a lower uptake.”
Nine in 10 bowel cancers can be treated with early detection.
Devika Jayawardene, who completed the test three years ago at age 50, said she only did the test in a bid to encourage her husband to do it.
Hers came back positive and further tests confirmed she had bowel cancer.
“Even though it’s messy it’s pretty important,” Ms Jayawardene said. “I want to get the word out bowel cancer can be treatable.”
Ms Jayawardene urged people not to throw away their free kits.
“If you can find it before cancer grows, there is treatment,” she said.