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Early detection is the key

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February 13, 2018

Goulburn Valley Health bowel cancer support nurse Katie Emanuelli with bowel cancer patient and GV Health staff member Maureen Trevena.

Bowel Cancer Australia’s ‘Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late’ campaign this month is designed to raise awareness and to help beat bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second-biggest cancer killer, expected to claim the lives of more than 33000 Australians by 2025.

Goulburn Valley Health bowel cancer support nurse Katie Emanuelli said the aim of the awareness campaign was to make people aware that bowel cancer often developed without warning signs.

‘‘People need to know the risk factors and participate in screening and actually be aware of some of the warning signs of bowel cancer,’’ Ms Emanuelli said.

‘‘If detected early, 90 per cent of cases can be successfully treated, so don’t wait until it’s too late.’’

Bowel cancer patient and GV Health staff member Maureen Trevena said having a good relationship with her doctor helped detect her bowel cancer early.

‘‘I just went to my GP to update my scripts and asked how often a bowel screening test should be taken and, being 54 at the time, I was advised it wouldn’t hurt to take another. She rang me a couple of days later and said it tested positive,’’ Mrs Trevena said.

‘‘I had no systems, then 15cm was removed from my bowel.’’

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program provides people aged between 50 and 74 with a free bowel cancer screening kit to help detect bowel cancer early.

‘‘Only one in four people actually take the test — and this needs to be put out there,’’ Ms Emanuelli said.

THINGS TO KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR

Symptoms suggestive of bowel cancer can include:

●a persistent change in bowel habit, especially going to the toilet more often or having looser, more diarrhoea-like movements;

●blood in the bowel movement or rectal bleeding;

●a change in appearance of bowel movements (changes such as narrower stools or mucus in stools);

●unexplained anaemia causing tiredness, weakness or weight loss; or

●a lump or swelling in your abdomen.

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