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Cancer CAN strike twice

Monday 18 September 2017

A pair of elderly hands
Over 14,000 Australians are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year.

After battling ovarian cancer in 2014, Sandra Buurman thought she was done with the disease.

But at 73 years old, it was clear that lightning could strike twice after receiving an urgent letter to see her GP.

Sandra had just returned her National Bowel Cancer Screening kit for testing and the results weren’t promising.

As far as Sandra knew she didn’t have any symptoms, but within a few weeks she was booked in for a colonoscopy.

“After beating cancer once, you don’t expect to go through it again,” Sandra said.

“My doctor said I was very lucky the test came along at the time it did, it meant I had caught the cancer early.

“They found three polyps, of which one was pre-cancerous.”

Sandra said she had never thought much about bowel cancer and it wasn’t top of mind after already having a hysterectomy and chemotherapy for her ovarian cancer.

While bowel cancer is the second most common type of cancer in Australia, it also one of the lowest survival rates.

Unlike other common cancers like breast, melanoma and prostate, which have a 90 per cent chance of surviving at least five years , bowel cancer survival is only estimated around 68 per cent.

But if it is caught early, 90 per cent of cases can be treated successfully.

“It’s such a little amount of work for you to beat cancer,” she said.

“People don’t want to think about these things and no one really appreciates it until you come face to face with it.

“Just do the test.”

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is a federal government initiative that aims to invite around four million Australians over 50 to screen for bowel cancer each year by 2020. The tests that show up in your mail-box, the postage to send your kit to the laboratory, and the actual testing that follows are free to all eligible Australians with a Medicare card and a postal address.

If you are eligible and you have not received your kit within six months of your birthday, call the Bowel Cancer Screening Program Information Line on 1800 118 868.

For more information visit: Bowel cancer screening and prevention

Last updated: 26 September 2017