Erik Carapetian says that his bowel screening test saved his life. Now he encourages everyone aged 50-74 to do it without delay.

Erik standing on a bushwalking trail smiling.

Erik Carapetian received his bowel screening test in the mail just after his 50th birthday.

“I usually wouldn’t have bothered, but 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 booked in for surgery. Within a week of diagnosis, they removed the tumour. The cancer was then classified as Type 2 A bowel cancer. “

He said it’s important to remember that your risk of developing bowel cancer increases from the age of 50 and can develop without symptoms.

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

“It is scary to think that 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 going on to a palliative care program or having chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Early detection is key for a successful and less invasive treatment.” 

Erik encourages Australians aged 50-74 to take the free bowel screening test they receive at home every two years as part of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.  

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

It is wonderful that we live in a country that helps pursue 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 that only a third of men in their 50s are making the most of this lifesaving opportunity.

He said that the follow-up appointments and treatment were not affected by COVID-19. He also urges others not to delay healthcare due to the pandemic. 

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

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

Note: The Australian Government is lowering the eligible screening age for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program from 50 to 45. People aged 50 to 74 will automatically be sent a free home test kit by the Australian Government every two years, and now people aged 45 to 49 can also request their first free screening kit to be mailed to them.