That’s the message from a leading Cairns gastroenterologist at the start of June, which is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.
Dr Bernard Chin, who practises at both Cairns Private Hospital and Cairns Day Surgery, said bowel cancer was the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Australia.
However, if picked up early, survival rates could be higher than 95 percent and Dr Chin urged people to “get off their bum” and get tested.
“Up to 80 Australians per week die from bowel cancer, but it is one of only a few cancers which are almost entirely preventable if picked up early,” he said.
“Remember that bowel cancer is very common and preventable, so don’t die of embarrassment, get off your bum and do your bowel cancer test!”
Dr Chin added the COVID-19 pandemic had been “very disruptive” to all cancer surveillance programs, with some experts predicting the number of preventable cancer deaths during the next five years could exceed the projected deaths from COVID-19.
“This is a sobering statistic,” he said.
“The public need to attend to their cancer screening and surveillance during this disruptive period, which is expected to last many months to come, if not years.”
Ramsay Health Care, which operates Cairns Private Hospital, Cairns Day Surgery and The Cairns Clinic, has recently upgraded the group’s endoscopy equipment, providing safer procedures for patients and better imaging technology for specialists.
“Endoscopy is a technology that allows doctors to peer into the insides of hollow organs, such as the stomach and intestines, without making incisions in the skin or muscles,” Dr Chin said.
“Clearer vision means our ability to pick up subtle but dangerous pathology will be enhanced – for instance - picking up precancerous polyps in the large bowel, means effectively preventing bowel cancer.
“The latest endoscopy video equipment allows the doctor to make the correct diagnosis and potentially treat the pathology at the same time, avoiding invasive surgery.”
So get off your bum and book your next bowel cancer screen by contacting your local General Practitioner for a referral.