Bowel Cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in Australia with a risk 1 in 12 people.

However, bowel cancer screening is still not being performed optimally.

To combat this Collins Street Medical Centre has joined with the Melbourne General Practice Network Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Screening using an immunochemical faecal occult blood test (FOBT) is recommended every 1-2 years for people aged 50 or over.

Of the 274 cases diagnosed each week 78 people die from the disease. If caught in time, 90% of bowel cancer cases can be treated successfully. If pre cancer polyps or adenomas are detected and removed, bowel cancer can be prevented. It is too late to wait for obvious rectal bleeding, change in bowel habit or anaemia and this is why the screening for microscopic blood is so important. Performing the FOBT every 2 years will reduce deaths due to bowel cancer by 15 to 33%.

If you have a family history of bowel cancer then we recommend colonoscopy from 50 or 10 years younger than the age of the diagnosis in your relative.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program will be sending out kits to those Australians turning 50, 55 or 65 years of age between July 2011 and 31/12/2014 and we encourage all our patients to do this and copy us in on the results so we can act if the test is positive for blood. However, those not in this age group and those who have previously completed the FOBT as part of the National Program will not be eligible and so we will arrange testing for this group.

There is now a Medicare rebatable test, which your GP can order so please contact Collins Street Medical Centre to make an appointment to discuss bowel cancer screening or do this with your GP at your next scheduled appointment.

For more information visit www.bowelcanceraustralia.org