We’ve invoked the help of scary ‘poo villains’ to sheet home the message that bowel cancer is Australia’s number two cancer killer so we need to beat poo phobia and use the bowel screening kit rather than throw it away.
‘Stick it to number 2’ is the message from an innovative new health campaign developed by our Cancer Smart team with the aim of boosting the number of eligible West Australians who participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP).
The NBCSP invites Australians over the age of 50 to screen for bowel cancer using a free and simple test at home.
Melissa Ledger, our Cancer Smart manager said despite the fact bowel cancer is one of the top causes of cancer death in WA, only 41 per cent of eligible West Australians are currently participating in the screening program.
She said the purpose of the new campaign is to promote discussion about bowel screening and to hopefully ‘normalise’ the testing process. “We know it’s largely embarrassment and anxiety that result in people throwing away their kits without using them, but we also know those who have completed the screening kit find it easy and convenient.
“People over 50 might recognise some of the ‘poo villains’ used in the campaign from movies such as The Exorcist, Dracula, and Silence of the Lambs,” Ms Ledger said. “We hope that using scary poo in a humorous way will remove the poo phobia and get people to ‘stick it to number 2’ which is far easier than people think.”
Ms Ledger said using the kit, which is delivered via the mail, can prevent up to 90% of bowel cancers when found early.
Donna Porteous from Mt Nasura was 50 when she was diagnosed with stage two bowel cancer just over two years ago and said she did the test just a couple of months after her birthday.
“I cannot stress strongly enough how important this screening is. It literally has saved my life. I was diagnosed without any signs or symptoms so if I’d waited until signs and symptoms occurred I would have had a much harder battle to fight,” she said.
“For some reason people seem to find ‘poo’ a taboo subject – even though it’s a natural part of everyone’s life. It isn’t difficult or messy to complete the screening. It’s actually a very simple, clean process that takes very little time or effort,” Ms Porteous said.
“It’s amazing how many people I have discussed poo with since my diagnosis! I’ve spoken with so many people who’ve had some signs that could potentially indicate something of concern in their body but have still not completed the test.
“I’ve urged them to take the test and see their doctor; I’ve made it my aim in life to educate and warn as many people as possible about the importance of the testing and of not ignoring warning signs,” she said.
“Better safe than sorry – do a simple test, take a few minutes out of your busy life as it may also save your life as it has mine.”
The campaign also aims to narrow the gap in participation rates across regional WA where participation rates are as low as 23 per cent in the Kimberley ranging to about 48 per cent in Manjimup.
For further information about the bowel screening program visit www.stickittonumber2.com.au or call us on 13 11 20.