Mackay man Wally McFie is urging people to be aware of bowel cancer and take advantage of the free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.
June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and the 72-year-old is sharing his story to encourage others to complete the free bowel screening test.
Two years ago, Mr McFie was sent to Mackay Base Hospital for a colonoscopy after completing a Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOTBT) he received in the mail from the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.
“I had completed a test a couple of years prior to this one arriving, so to return a positive result was a bit of a shock,” Mr McFie said.
A follow-up colonoscopy revealed five polyps – growths with the potential to develop cancer. Next to one of these polyps was a spot requiring further investigation.
“The doctor was a bit concerned about the spot they found so they sent me to Townsville to have some more tests,” he said.
“It was the early stage of bowel cancer and I ended up having a course of six weeks chemotherapy and radium in Townsville before returning to Mackay for 19 weeks of chemotherapy at the Base Hospital.”
Gastroenterology nurse coordinator Tania Mattinson said bowel cancer can develop without any early signs or warnings.
“Screening using a FOBT can detect blood from pre-cancerous polyps from an early stage of bowel cancer and when identified early, 90% of cases can be successfully treated,” Ms Mattinson said.
Mr McFie said he had no symptoms of having bowel cancer and that he is grateful for the National Bowel Screen Program.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is not to ignore doing the test. Do your test, it could save your life – it saved my life,” he said.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program tests Australians aged between 50 and 74 every two years. A home test kit is sent to your Medicare-registered address around the time of your eligible birthday.
The campaign urges you to Make your No. 2 your No. 1 priority. For more information about the program visit www.qld.gov.au/bowelscreen.
- Bowel cancer claims the lives of 80 Australians every week.
- Most commonly diagnosed internal cancer in Australia for both men and women combined.
- One in 12 people will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime.
- Currently four in 10 Australians complete their bowel screening test, yet Cancer Council research has shown if screening rates increased to six in 10, nearly 84,000 lives could be saved by 2040.
- Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world.
- FOBT can be purchased from the pharmacy or conducted via a GP for those who don’t fit within the program’s criteria.
A/ Media and Communications Manager