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Detection Is Our Best Defence Did you know that cancer is one of the major causes of death in Australia? By the age of 85, 1 in 2 Australian men and 1 in 3 Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer. Whilst the highest cancer rate for men and women internationally is in Denmark, followed by France, Australia is third highest. Although, these statistics are alarming and concerning, the survival rate for many common cancers in Australia has increased by 30% in the past two decades, and more than 60% of people diagnosed with cancer in Australia will survive more than five years after their diagnosis. One of the main reasons for this improvement is due to the high quality of cancer screening and tests available in Australia, as well as strong records of early diagnosis. Cancer screening involves conducting a test on an individual for signs of the disease, ideally before it causes symptoms. Tests are offered to people who may have an increased risk of a particular disease because of their age, gender or other factors. It’s important to remember that a screening test cannot diagnose cancer. To make a cancer diagnosis, further investigations are necessary to confirm the findings of a screening test. I’ll go through just some of the most common and highly recommended tests: Breast Cancer Screening: BreastScreen Australia is the national breast cancer screening program. It provides free mammogram screening every two years for women aged 50-69. Women aged 40-49 and 70 years and older, who have no breast cancer symptoms or signs, are also eligible for free screening mammograms. Your local GP can provide breast cancer screening service recommendations. Cervical Cancer Screening: All women over 18 who have ever had sex are advised to have a Pap smear every two years, even if they no longer have sex. Your local GP should provide this service. There are two costs involved in having a Pap smear: the consultation with the GP or nurse; and the Pap smear pathology test. Many GP’s, clinics, health centres and pathology providers ‘bulk bill’ which means there is no cost to you for the Pap smear and/or the consultation.

~Rebecca Meldrum

Bowel Cancer Screening: Bowl cancer screening involves a test for bowel cancer in people who do not have any obvious symptoms of the disease. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program in Australia provides free at-home tests to people aged 50, 55, 60 and 65 years. However, screening is recommended every two years for those aged over 50 years. Skin Cancer Screening: Skin cancer screening can be conducted by your GP or by a specialist. It is recommended that you check your own skin regularly (roughly every three months), and that you see your GP every year for a skin check. There may be costs associated with skin cancer screening which may include the consultation with the GP or nurse and/or the consultation from a specialist. Prostate Cancer Screening: Unlike cancers of the bowel, breast and cervix, there is insufficient evidence to support the benefits of populationbased screening for prostate cancer. It is very common for men over 50 to experience symptoms related to changes in urinary flow, urgency or control. These changes are often caused by the slight enlargement of the prostate, which is non-cancerous. Regardless, it is still recommended that a GP is consulted if any changes are noticed. Two easily run and very common tests for prostate cancer are the PSA test and a digital rectal examination. There are many different types of cancers and each type of cancer is very different. This means that each cancer has a very different test. It is important to talk to your doctor to see if a general screening for any cancer is recommended. You may also request a screening test from your doctor, even if they do not feel you are at risk. Unfortunately, a general trend amongst cancers is that they are silent until it is too late. Just because you are healthy, does not mean that you shouldn’t get a regular check-up. Apart from potentially saving your life, it is a little discomfort for a big peace of mind.

Aug 2014

Profile for Positively Transforming World

PTW: August 2014  

World Free-running Champion Ryan Doyle shares his adventures of travelling the world, we take a look at cancer and help you understand this...

PTW: August 2014  

World Free-running Champion Ryan Doyle shares his adventures of travelling the world, we take a look at cancer and help you understand this...

Profile for ptwmag
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