30-second test could save a life

ALAN Weston says a 30 seconds and a simple test could be all it takes to save your life.

Bowel cancer continues to impact on ordinary Australians with an estimated 17,000 diagnosed with the deadly disease last year.

Mr Weston, district chairman for Rotary Bowelscan said a simple, 30-second test could give people precious time in the fight against the disease.

The local Rotary district sold 6055 test kits last year and 4713 were returned to be tested.

Forty-eight of those tested returned a positive result but Mr Weston said that a positive test doesn't always lead to a cancer diagnosis.

"If a person gets a positive result from the kit they can then see a GP and a specialist for a colonoscopy to check," he said.

"Sometimes it may not be cancer, it may be just polyps or other inflammation but they do the test to check what is causing the result."

Mr Weston said the kits have been revamped this year, making them easier to use and return for diagnosis.

"With the new kits, there is no need to go on a special diet beforehand," he said.

"Also, all you need to do is prod the stool and then put it in a jar and return it in the post for testing."

Mr Weston said while the idea of poking around in stools made some people squeamish, there was a real upside.

"The whole process is quick and clean and for what the result can be it is very little trouble to go to at all," he said.

The whole process is quick and clean and for what the result can be it is very little trouble to go to at all.

"Men in particular tend to be more resistant to doing the test, even though the statistics show they are more likely to get bowel cancer."

Of the 14,860 new cases of bowel cancer diagnosed in 2010, 8258 were in men.

The risk of developing bowel cancer increases with age and while the tests are recommended for people over 40, Mr Weston said the kits were available to everybody.

"There are no age restrictions at all on the test, there are people now even in their 20s being detected with bowel cancer," he said.

"Especially if there is a family history, we encourage people of any age to come and grab a test kit. Even if it's every two years it may give them early warning for the disease."

The kits will be available for $15 in shopping centres throughout the Clarence Valley from early May, and Mr Weston said if they save one life, it will be worth it.

"It's great we're able to do something to help save people," he said.

Topics:  bowel cancer

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