National Bowel Cancer Screening Program kit
National Bowel Cancer Screening Program kit Bowel Cancer Australia

The Gladstone demographic not taking up life-saving tests

DOCTORS have urged people over 50 to undertake potentially life-saving bowel cancer screening tests.

Only 38 per cent of Gladstone and Biloela residents between the age of 50-74 did the test in 2016-17, one of the lowest across Queensland.

Across Central Queensland, only 44 per cent of people who received the kit did the test.

According to the Federal Department of Health, about one in 23 Australians will develop bowel cancer before their 75th birthday.

In addition, about 80 people die each week from the disease - the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in Australia.

Bowel Cancer Australia director and colorectal surgeon Associate Professor Graham Newstead said the disease is preventable if detected early.

"Being aware of bowel cancer, and the steps to prevent and detect it early, are paramount,” Prof Newstead said.

"If blood is detected, you should contact your GP immediately to discuss the result and obtain a referral for further investigation via colonoscopy within 30 days.”

According to Prof Newstead, the presence of blood in the bowel could be a sign of other conditions such as polyps, haemorrhoids or bowel inflammation.

"Research shows wait times exceeding 120 days are associated with poorer outcomes,” Prof Newstead said.

He urges people over 50 that "doing nothing is not an option”. "You need to talk to your GP about how to minimise your risk of developing bowel cancer,” he said.

Eligible people for the bowel cancer screening tests are sent an invitation in the mail, which contains the faecal occult blood test kit.