Erik Carapetian received the bowel screening test in the mail shortly after his 50th birthday. This simple test may have saved his life and now he encourages other 50-year-olds to do it without delay.

Though I normally wouldn’t have bothered, something prompted me to do the test straight away. The test result came back positive, so my GP immediately sent me for a colonoscopy."

“The procedure detected a tumour and I was booked in for surgery. Within a week of diagnosis, the tumour was removed. The cancer was classified as Type 2 A bowel cancer.”

The 50-year-old Project Manager said it’s important to remember that the risk of developing bowel cancer increases from the age of 50 and often develops without symptoms.

“The diagnosis left me stunned. I could not see this coming as I am healthy, active, a non-smoker, and had absolutely no symptoms. I had just turned 50, I felt like I was too young to worry about bowel cancer.”

It is scary to think – if I hadn’t done the test and the tumour not been detected, I probably would have found out once I had symptoms which could have been too late."

“This would have meant either directly going on to a palliative care program or chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Early detection is key for successful and less invasive treatment.”

He encourages other Australians, especially men in their 50s, to take advantage of the free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and do the lifesaving test.

“It is such a simple and well-designed test. I would highly recommend doing the test to give you peace of mind. Plus, it could potentially save your life - it saved mine!”

“It is wonderful that we live in a country that actively pursues the health and wellbeing of its people. The free test arrives at our homes every two years – it’s an opportunity too good to pass up.”

It’s disappointing to hear that only a third of men in their 50s are making the most of this lifesaving opportunity. I know life gets busy with work, families and other commitments, but we need to prioritise our health."

He said that the follow-up appointments and treatment were not impacted by COVID-19 and urges others not to delay healthcare as a result of the pandemic.

“As soon as the screening test result was positive, everything was fast tracked as it was considered a life-threatening situation.

“I was very impressed and thankful for the speedy response of all involved including the surgeon and hospital.”