Only 40% of population using free cancer test kit

Zach RelphSouth Western Times

A staggering number of people older than 50 are not completing a free bowel cancer prevention test, the latest Cancer Council figures have revealed.

Statistics show only 40 per cent of the State’s residents, aged between 50 and 74, respond to the Federal Government’s free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

The screening kit, which is endorsed by the Cancer Council, is sent to Australians in the age bracket so they can test for pre-cancerous symptoms from home.

Council South West regional education officer Diane Pope said WA’s low response rate was startling, given the national average was 60 per cent.

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Ms Pope said the kit was a resourceful tool which ensured early bowel cancer detection.

“We are looking at increasing awareness in the South West of the kit,” Ms Pope said.

“This program is effective in picking up early signs of bowel cancer.

“More than 90 per cent of bowel cancer can be cured if found early – that’s huge.”

The kit allows people to test for the disease via faecal occult blood testing.

Ms Pope said it was easy to complete from the comfort of home, but the council was able to offer further help.

“There is information available and people can contact us if they need help to interpret the kit,” Ms Pope said.

All Australians aged from 50 to 74 will receive the kit every two years by 2020.

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