Often it’s only one or two degrees of separation between us and someone we know or love who have been impacted by or lost to bowel cancer. Our message is simple. It may be your mother, father, grandmother, uncle or friend who has been impacted by the disease. And by taking a simple screening test you can help prevent bowel cancer and save a life.

Legendary media trailblazer and Jodi Lee Foundation Patron, Ita Buttrose, Carlton Football Club legend, Stephen Kernahan and Sydney Swans Coach, John Longmire have united six clubs of the AFL with a single message for those aged 50+.

TAKE THE TIME, TAKE THE TEST. IT MIGHT JUST SAVE YOUR LIFE.

Players from Sydney Swans, Carlton FC men’s and women’s team, Port Power, Brisbane Lions and North Melbourne FC have come together – united by their connection to bowel cancer – highlighting how close their degrees of separation are, on and off the field.

On your fiftieth birthday – and every two years after that – the government will send you a screening test in the mail through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Currently only around 40 per cent of people invited to participate are doing their screening tests. The lowest participation in the program is by those aged 50-54 where only 28 per cent of people are completing the test.

If you recognise yourself in that group, please understand that increasing participation will not only save hundreds of lives – including possibly your own – but also billions of dollars in health care and treatment costs.

ABOUT THE SCREENING TEST/

Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in Australia, but it doesn’t have to be.

On your fiftieth birthday – and every two years after that – the government will send you a screening test in the mail through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Currently only around 40 per cent of people invited to participate are doing their screening tests.

So what’s involved? The screening test detects tiny traces of blood in your poo which is invisible to the naked eye and may be a sign of cancer or a polyp. A polyp is a tiny clump of cells which over time may develop into cancer.

When you go to the toilet, you need to do a poo, poke it with the stick that’s in the kit and seal it up. You do this again on a different day. You then send your samples back to the lab in the reply paid-envelope, to be tested. You do not need to change your medication or diet to do the test.

The results will be sent back to you and your GP. If your bowel screening test result is positive, you will need to discuss the results with your doctor, who may recommend further testing to identify the cause of the bleeding.

It’s important to remember that a positive result may be due to conditions other than cancer, such as polyps, haemorrhoids or inflammation of the bowel.

A recent study stated that “Australians are too busy for bowel cancer screening” and that the main reason they offer for not taking the test is they “don’t have the time”.

We urge you to be proactive about your health and do your screening test when it comes in the mail… it might just save your life.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL BOWEL CANCER SCREENING PROGRAM/

If you’re aged 50-74 and eligible you’ll be sent a free bowel cancer screening kit. Around 80 Australians die of bowel cancer every week, but if detected early, up to 90% of cases can be successfully treated. Everything you need to know about the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is here. It’s a gift that could save your life.

Click here to visit the NBCSP website to learn when you are eligible for your screening kit, the facts about bowel cancer and more.