New figures paint a dark picture on the bowel cancer situation in our region.
They show that by the end of 2021 another 3,200 people in South West Sydney will be diagnosed with bowel cancer.
What’s worse, 1,040 will likely lose their lives to the disease.
This means that on average between now and the end of 2021 someone will die from bowel cancer in this community every two days.
The above are confirmed by figures just released by the Cancer Institute of NSW.
But it’s not all gloom and doom on the bowel cancer front.
Health experts say it is possible to change these figures through a very simple test.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program sends a bowel cancer screening kit to all Australians 50 to 74 on a regular basis.
This kit, which can be done in a person’s home, can detect potential warning signs of bowel cancer at a very early stage, before symptoms develop.
This means people are more likely to be diagnosed at the earliest stages when the chances of survival are at their highest.
In fact, for some, a positive result on a bowel cancer screening test can lead to changes being detected and treated before they turn into cancer.
South Western Sydney Local Health District cancer services director Geoff Delaney said bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in the district and the second most common cause of cancer deaths.
According to the new figures, two thirds or 65 percent of the bowel cancer cases diagnosed in south west Sydney have already spread by the time they are detected.
“I always explain to my patients that if bowel cancer is caught early enough, it is extremely treatable which is why screening is so important,” he said.
The state’s chief cancer officer and ceo of the Cancer Institute of NSW, Professor David Currow, also stresses the importance of the test.
“The most important thing that a person can do to improve their chances of surviving a bowel cancer diagnosis is to have the cancer detected early,’’ he said.
“When you get your kit in the post, don’t put it off. It could save your life.”
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is a free service which mails screening kits to people aged 50 to 74 years.
For more information and to check your eligibility, visit cancerscreening.gov.au or call 1800 118 868
If you have symptoms such as a persistent change in bowel habit, pain in your abdomen, bleeding, tiredness or weight loss, or if you are worried about your bowel health in any way, then you should not wait for screening, but contact your doctor – who can also provide you with the screening kit.