‘My doctor began to cry when he told me’
JAKE Hurst's GP cried with shock when it came time to break the news that the Year 12 student had bowel cancer.
The Mt Barker man was aged 18 and focused on the most important year of his education, when he visited his doctor in 2014 to investigate symptoms.
"All the tests and screenings came back as negative, it wasn't until the colonoscopy that we found out it was bowel cancer," Jake said.
"The doctor was very shocked … he was crying when he told me, out of shock."
Instead of schoolies celebrations, Jake endured a month of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, followed by surgery to remove the tumour and part of his bowel.
Six months after Jake's diagnosis, his mother Louise learned she had breast cancer. Mother and son have kept up each other's spirits, but Ms Hurst admits it's been a hard couple of years.
"Oh gosh, it was hard, very, very hard … if Jake has a good day, I probably have a bad day," Ms Hurst said.
Asked what the future held for them, she said: "We're getting there … I'm glad Jake still lives at home so I can keep an eye out on him."
Jake's shock early diagnosis with bowel cancer is reflected in two global studies that show rising bowel cancer rates in people aged under 50 and recommend reviews of screening guidelines.
Bowel Cancer Australia chief executive Julien Wiggins says given the increasing rates of bowel cancer among younger Australians, "we may need to review screening guidelines and consider lowering the starting age from 50 to 45, as the American Cancer Society now recommends".
He said the wait time for follow-up colonoscopies in bowel cancer detection was the "Achilles heel of the screening process".
He wants federal and state governments to commit to the Colonoscopy Wait-time and Performance Guarantee, which would ensure a maximum wait of 120 days between the first presentation to a follow-up colonoscopy.
South Australia has the second largest wait-time for colonoscopies of 184 days.
Since the March 2018 South Australian state election, State Government funding has helped cut the number of South Australians overdue for a colonoscopy drop from 4100 to 3600.
In March, the South Australian State Government committed a further $45 million over two years to continue the program.