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When John received the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program kit in the mail, he did the test because it seemed like a sensible thing to do. The screening test came back positive, which led him to have a colonoscopy for further investigation.

“I was a bit concerned when the test came back positive because you don’t know what they are going to find”, he shares.

From the colonoscopy, a number of polyps were found, and it is known that polyps can progress into cancer.

Two months later he underwent a procedure to remove numerous polyps, including a neoplastic tubular adenoma. Thankfully, this was successful, and he was able to catch the growth early before it progressed to bowel cancer.

One of the ‘lucky’ ones

John considers himself lucky for discovering the polyps early, otherwise he might not be here today. Since his own close call, he has made an effort to share his story with colleagues, friends and family, encouraging them take part in the bowel cancer screening program.

“For anyone who is unsure about the bowel cancer screening test, I’d say do it. Any discomfort you have now is far less than what it could be in the future if you don’t do the test”, he says.

He adds, “Even if you do need a colonoscopy because of receiving a positive result from the screening test, it’s performed under light anaesthesia.  I felt no pain and was finished up by lunchtime. For yourself, your wife, your family, just get the screening test done.”

Screening for bowel cancer

Bowel cancer can begin without noticeable symptoms. Bowel cancer screening can detect blood in your stool sample which can be an early sign of bowel cancer. Detecting cancer earlier can make successful treatment more likely.

The Australian Government, through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, aims to reduce deaths from bowel cancel by detecting early signs of the disease. Eligible Australians are mailed home test kits every two years, which can help to find bowel cancer in its earliest stages. Do the test – it could save your life.

Symptoms of bowel cancer

While bowel cancer often shows no symptoms in its early stages, there are still a number of warning signs you should be aware of. Bowel cancer symptoms can include:

  • blood in your poo or in the toilet bowl
  • a change in your toilet habits that doesn’t go away for more than 3 weeks. This can include looser poos, severe constipation and/or if you need to poo more often than usual
  • unexplained tiredness or weight loss
  • stomach pain

If you notice any of these, speak to your GP or health care provider immediately.

For more information

  • Find out more about bowel cancer screening here
  • Order a replacement kit by clicking here, or by calling 1800 627 701
  • Call 13 11 20 to speak to a cancer nurse