HEALTH professionals across the south-west are being armed with information to help in the fight against bowel cancer.
Consultant at Western Victoria Primary Health Network Rachael Bond is working with doctors and nurses at medical practices and clinics in Glenelg and Southern Grampians shires on bowel screening.
This follows on from a similar campaign in Moyne, Corangamite and Warrnambool.
Ms Bond said the program is all about providing information.
“Rates in regional areas for bowel cancer are higher than in the city but screening rates are lower,” Ms Bond said.
“A lot of smaller rural areas don’t have the same access to information on the importance of screening for bowel cancer.
“Our aim is to make sure GPs and nurses are informed about the latest trends in screening, how and when it needs to be done, so they can then inform their patients.”
Data shows Moyne, Corangamite, Southern Grampians and Glenelg are all under the national average when it comes to bowel screening rates.
Warrnambool is just above the average.
Ms Bond said from the age of 50, bowel screening should be done every two years.
Those with a family history may have to screen more often, with that decision made in consultation with their GP.
“Bowel cancer is one of the most treatable cancers if it is detected early,” she said.
The work being done at local level compliments the rolling out of the Cancer Council Victoria’s biggest ever bowel cancer public education program.
Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said bowel cancer claims the lives of more than 1,300 Victorians each year.
“To understand the enormous impact of bowel cancer on the Victorian community, consider this, bowel cancer kills four times more Victorians than road accidents,” Mr Harper said.
“This is a real tragedy because many of these cancer deaths are preventable.
“But too many people are ignoring the free and simple test mailed to our homes. I’ve done it myself.
“Compared to the impact of a diagnosis on our immediate families and the long-term mental and physical toll of advanced cancer treatment, doing the test is easy.”
Only 40 per cent of eligible Victorians aged between 50 and 74 complete the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program home test.
Cancer Council Victoria hopes that this campaign will help to increase participation to 50 per cent.
This would lead to and an additional 20,000 Victorians taking the test this year.