After his 50th birthday, Erik Carapetian got the bowel screening test in the mail. This simple test may have saved his life and now he encourages other 50-year-olds to do it without delay.
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.
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. More often, it develops 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 – 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 successful and less invasive treatment.”
Erik encourages Australians over 50 to take the free 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. 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 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.”