Bowel test kit a lifesaver


Andrew Bartley took a potentially life saving bowel cancer test.
Andrew Bartley took a potentially life saving bowel cancer test.

PERTH dentist Andrew Bartley is used to taking care of other people’s oral health but he has encouraged others to take responsibility for their well-being.

The Wembley resident was saved from the potential of developing bowel cancer after a screening result found pre-cancerous cells.

“In my business you can see what you’re looking for when there are problems with people’s teeth but with something like bowel cancer there are no signs or symptoms,” Mr Bartley said.

“When you turn 50 you get a kit to self-test from the government and people are put off because it is a faecal kit.”

After a test returned a positive result, Mr Bartley had two pre-cancerous polyps removed.

“It’s about getting people to take an interest in looking out for themselves – everyone gets a kit when they turn 50 so people need to make sure they use them,” he said.

Cancer Council WA (CCWA) bowel cancer screening co-ordinator Shannon Wagner said bowel cancer was the second-biggest cancer killer in Australia behind lung cancer.

“By 2020 all ages between 50 and 74 will receive a kit every two years, so we need to boost our efforts to tell people of the importance of participating,” Ms Wagner said.

“Currently less than 40 per cent of those who get the kit complete it so we must do better.”

This year, the Department of Health extended the bowel cancer screening program, meaning people turning 64 and 72 will also receive a screening kit in the mail.

“If the cancer is found at an early stage, the chance of a full recovery is high and most people will be able to return to their current lifestyle and activities,” Ms Wagner said.

“A little bit of embarrassment at the start is nothing when you consider that what they are doing could save your life.”