A ROUTINE bowel cancer screening check that picked up a speck of blood before any other symptoms appeared has significantly extended Booragoon resident Vince Roberts’ life expectancy and potentially saved his life.
Mr Roberts urged people over 50 to be tested annually, with new Rotary Bowelscan kits being introduced this year making it a much simpler process.
Armadale Rotary Club representative Eileen Alford said the disease was a “silent killer” and it was crucial that testing was done before symptoms appeared.
According to statistics from the WA Cancer Registry, 431 people – 233 males and 198 females – died from bowel cancer in 2013.
Mr Roberts said he started doing annual tests about five years ago.
“I had been doing it every year but in 2014 I had a positive result,” he said.
“It proved to be very early and very small and there were no other symptoms.
“I barely believed it but I followed through and had a colonoscopy.”
He was promptly sent to a specialist and was on the operating table, undergoing surgery two weeks later.
The cancer was successfully removed, with no sign of the disease returning and without the need for chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
He said the annual Bowelscan program was fantastic and was a cheap insurance policy.
“It is a very timely reminder that you are due again,” he said.
The Bowelscan program has been going in WA since 2007 and new kits have been introduced, making it a much simpler process, according to co-ordinator Jeff Cairns.
The new kits do not need any special preparation.
“Thanks to long sampling brushes and a more sensitive test, this new system doesn’t require any messy handling,” he said.
“You don’t have to get too close to anything nasty.
“The fewer hurdles to jump over, the more lives we can save. It’s that simple.”
Bowelscan kits are available at a subsidised price of $15 from chemists throughout the metropolitan area until the end of May.
The 2016 Bowelscan kit has been provided through new partner Clinical Genomics.
“You won’t need to take your sample card back to the pharmacy,” he said.
“You just post it to the pathology lab for free testing.”
Bowel scan testing kits are also available from pharmacies year-round, costing $40 each.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates there will be about 17,520 new cases of bowel cancer diagnosed this year, 9815 males and 7705 females.
It is the third most common cancer diagnosed at 13.4 per cent, behind breast cancer (27.3pc) and prostate cancer (25.2pc).