Good LIVES MAGAZINE
10 minutes could save your life
Lincoln Size, CEO cancer council SA
the importance of regular cancer screening. One in three cancer deaths are preventable with positive lifestyle changes, and one of the best things you can do is participate in regular cancer screening. Thanks to decades of cancer research, we now have reliable screening tests for bowel, breast, and cervical cancers. These simple tests save the lives of thousands of South Australians every year. But participation rates are not what they should be: screening tests continue to get left off the calendar, or bumped down the priority list. We’re all busy, but 10 minutes of awkwardness could save your life. The simple truth is that the earlier cancer is diagnosed, the better the treatment outcome will be, so stay on top of your screening schedule and give yourself the best chance of a longer, healthier future.
The Cervical Screening Test replaced the Pap smear in December 2017.
It’s performed less often, and has a greater chance of detecting abnormalities earlier. Your first test should be two years after your latest Pap smear. After that, get tested every five years until you’re 74.
Bowel cancer screening is done with an at-home Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT). As part of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, eligible people are sent a free test kit in the mail every two years. If you’re turning 50, 54, 58, 60, 62, 64, 66, 68, 70, 72 or 74 this year, then look out for yours around your birthday. Test yourself every two years from 50–74. For those not receiving a free kit this year, you can call 1800 118 868 to find out when you’ll be eligible, or buy your kit from your local pharmacy.
Being breast aware is important regardless of your age, family history or when you last had a mammogram, so familiarise yourself with the normal look and feel of your breasts and see your doctor if you notice any changes. Get screened every two years from 50–74, with a free mammogram through BreastScreen SA; just call 13 20 50. Remember, nine out of 10 women diagnosed have no family history. If you‘re over 74, talk to your doctor about continuing with cancer screening tests.
Our nurses are available to discuss reducing your risk, and can provide information and support about any screening tests. Just call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
Breast cancer screening is performed using a mammogram, a low-dose breast X-ray.