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The Gut Foundation and UNSW develop innovative program for early bowel cancer detection

An innovative bowel cancer screening initiative designed to save lives through early detection was launched in Port Macquarie on Friday.

The study, funded by The Gut Foundation and in conjunction with the UNSW Rural Clinical School will see general practitioners actively promote FOBT bowel cancer screening, providing essential information to patients on the incidence, the screening process and why screening is important to saving lives.

Lead Investigator of the study and President of The Gut Foundation, Professor Terry Bolin said it will be open to Port Macquarie residents of all ages and will include an essential educational element to increase uptake of screening.

“Bowel cancer is the second most common and the second most deadly cancer in Australia. But most people are completely unaware of how common it is and the fact that most cases can be cured if detected early," Professor Bolin said.

“We believe this lack of knowledge may be contributing to the relatively low uptake rates (33%) of the Government’s free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. It’s a great program that has been making inroads but there are obviously barriers to people taking part.

“This research study in Port Macquarie will ensure that patients are informed by GPs of their risk and provided with support during the screening process. We aim to tackle any of the obstacles that may prevent people from being screened and detecting cancer early,” he said.

A similar program conducted in the Riverina district of NSW in 2012 detected 59 pre-cancerous polyps and 14 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer.  An important finding was that in the 40 to 49 age group 20% had a significant polyp or early cancer.

The outcomes from both the Riverina and the Port Macquarie initiatives will be used to demonstrate how screening rates may be improved nationally.

Port Macquarie residents of any age are encouraged to talk to their general practitioner about taking part in the free research study.

First published in the Port Macquarie News. Read original article here.

Learn more about the Rural Clinical School here.