At Victorian Gastroenterology Group in Melbourne we strongly advocate bowel cancer screening. Bowel cancer (colorectal cancer) is the 2nd most common newly diagnosed cancer in Australia and is the second highest cause of cancer deaths in Australia. One in 12 people in Australia will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime.
The vast majority of bowel cancers arise from polyps, small growths within the bowel that often do not cause symptoms. In general the progression from a benign polyp to cancer takes many years, therefore there is a perfect opportunity to prevent cancer by screening for and removing polyps.
Ninety percent of bowel cancers can be treated successfully if found early but less than 40% are detected at this early stage.
Current guidelines suggest that everyone over the age of 50 years should participate in some form of bowel cancer screening, either FOBT (faecal occult blood test) or Colonoscopy. Those at increased risk of bowel cancer (eg. family history) should start screening earlier than the age of 50.
Faecal Occult blood tests (FOBT) look for tiny traces of blood in the stool associated with advanced polyps or with bowel cancer. When used as screening in patients with no symptoms, FOBT should be performed every 2nd year. A positive result always needs follow up with a Colonoscopy.
If you have had a positive FOBT we will ensure you are seen promptly and have a Colonoscopy booked as soon as possible.
Colonoscopy is a more effective form of screening as it allows the detection and removal of polyps before they have reached an advanced stage or become cancerous. Because polyps rarely cause any symptoms there is a rationale for 5-yearly Colonoscopy in anyone who is at increased risk of bowel cancer.
At Victorian Gastroenterology Group we strive to make the process as easy as possible for you. Contact us to book your appointment for a Colonoscopy or a consultation regarding your bowel cancer risk. Check with us if you are eligible to book in for Colonoscopy directly, without the need for a consultation prior.
For further information on Bowel Cancer and screening:
Bowel Cancer Prevention - GESA