Test can be awkward but it might save your life

LET'S cut the crap and get to the point - dipping something into dirty toilet water stinks.

Yes! It's a little embarrassing, but that moment of shame could save your life.

In just one year, 1742 residents put the awkwardness aside and took the bowel cancer test.

Of those, 121 people were told they were at risk of, or had, the disease.

Bowel Cancer Australia chief Julien Wiggins said doing the test probably saved many of their lives.

He said many people refused to be screened because they were embarrassed by the process.

The test involves dipping a small sample card into toilet water after a bowel movement, putting it into a special kit and popping it in the mail.

"People don't do the test because it's literally messy and embarrassing," Mr Wiggins said.

"Their perception is correct.

"It still does involve taking a sample after a bowel movement in the toilet bowl and there is an ick factor associated with that."

The bowel cancer test looks for traces of blood in the bowel movement.

The blood may come from a polyp - a precursor to the disease - or from the cancer itself.

Polyps can be removed and generally no further treatment is needed.

In the case of a tumour, the cancer is removed if possible and the patient may undergo chemotherapy.

If the cancer is too far gone, palliative care will be the only option.

The Federal Government provides free kits to people who are 50, 55, 65, 70 or 74.

People outside these age groups can buy the kits for about $40 at chemists or at preventbowelcancer.org.


- Sherele Moody