Bowel Cancer Screening

Colorectal or Bowel Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Australia with 1 in 12 individuals being diagnosed with the disease by the age of 85.

Bowel Cancer is highly preventable through screening and early detection of pre-cancerous polyps. National guidelines recommend screening with Faecal Occult Blood Testing (FOBT) every two years from the age of 50. FOBT detects microscopic traces of blood in the faeces that could have resulted from the presence of a polyp or bowel cancer. A positive FOBT result generates referral by your GP to a Specialist for a Colonoscopy.

Colonoscopy is a low-risk day surgery procedure that is the best test for diagnosing and treating pre-cancerous polyps. From 2020 the National Bowel Cancer Screening (NBCSR) has provided free FOBTs
to all Australians between 50 and 74 years of age bi-annually but this is currently not in place. I would encourage all Pro Health Care patients to participate in this program.

What about the Under 50s?

Over the last decade it has become clear that rates of Colorectal Cancer have markedly increased in younger age groups (under 50 years). Government based population screening currently is not offered for those aged less than 50, however, most specialists in the area agree FOBT in younger individuals is appropriate. If you are under 50 years old and wish to have bowel cancer screening, ask your GP to order a FOBT.

Colonoscopy may also be indicated for further investigation of any individuals with:

  • Sudden change in bowel habit (constipation or diarrhoea)
  • New ongoing abdominal pain
  • Unexplained or unintentional weight loss
  • Rectal Bleeding
  • Unexplained anaemia
  • A family history of Bowel Cancer

I would encourage any Pro Health Care patient to contact their GP to discuss Bowel Cancer Screening if they have not undergone a FOBT in the last two years.

Eligible patients can arrange efficient Easy Access Colonoscopy through Adelaide Colorectal and General Surgery. This service is available at Western Community, Calvary North Adelaide, Calvary Adelaide and Glenelg Community Hospitals.

Dr Anthony Ciccocioppo, General and Colorectal Surgeon

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