Is this the most valuable thing to ever land in your mail box?

Is this the most valuable thing to ever land in your mail box?

increase_fontsize downcrease_fontsize

Bills, fines, rate notices – it's not every day that the contents of your letter box gives you value, instead of taking it away. But this glossy blue and white pack from the Australian Government could do just that.

It's your bowel cancer home screening test. They land in the mailboxes of people aged 50-74 every two years, and for good reason – bowel cancer takes the lives of more than 80 Australians every week.

But it doesn't have to; dying from bowel cancer can be prevented and this unassuming shiny blue and white envelope can help.

We think it might be the most valuable thing to ever land in your mailbox, and here's why:

Happy Birthday, from the Australian Government

Home Test Kit for Early Detection

Bowel cancer can happen at any age, but the risk is greater for men and women over the age of 50.

It's one of Australia's biggest cancer killers. In fact, more people die of bowel cancer each year than breast, prostate or skin cancer.

The Australian Government is serious about reducing these preventable deaths. This is why they send a test to everyone aged 50-74 every two years, but sadly not enough of us are using it.

Less than 42 per cent of eligible people completed the test last year, which is a real waste.

When your present from the government arrives in your mailbox, don't waste it. It could save your life. Find out if you're eligible for the test and when it will arrive.

Spotting the invisible signs of cancer

The bowel cancer home screening test is remarkable because it can pick up on the early signs of cancer, before symptoms appear and at a time that most can be successfully treated.

Officially it's known as a Faecal Occult Blood Test, or FOBT. It picks up on tiny traces of blood in your poo that are invisible to the eye which could be an early sign of cancer.

The best news is that as many as 90 per cent of bowel cancers can be successfully treated if found early. Doing the test can save you from unnecessary treatment or surgery.

It's easy, quick and hygienic

We're pretty fortunate that such a valuable kit is free. You don't have to make an appointment with a doctor, and it's not invasive – no need to leave your house.

You don't need a medical degree to complete this screening test. It's as simple as going to the toilet and doing a number two.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program sends you everything you need - instructions, a flushable toilet liner, collection tube and stick, a sanitary zip lock bag and reply paid envelope.

The test takes four easy steps:

STEP 1 – prepare

  • Write your details on one of the collection tubes.
  • Put the flushable paper toilet liner in the toilet bowl.

STEP 2 – collect

  • Poo onto the paper.
  • Open the tube and scrape the tip of the stick into the poo to get a tiny sample. Smaller than a grain of rice is OK.
  • Put the stick back into the collection tube and click the lid shut. Shake the tube up and down.

STEP 3 – Store and repeat

  • Place the tube into the ziplock bag and store the sample.
  • Repeat steps 1-3 with the second collection tube when you next do a poo.

STEP 4 – Send

  • Put the participant details form and the two collection tubes (in the sealed zip lock bag) into the reply paid envelope. Post the envelope.

It may seem unappealing, but the kit makes getting the sample easy, quick and hygenic. It's worth it when you consider that the test could save your life.

Put your mind at rest

Doing the test gives you peace of mind.

A positive test means that blood was found in your sample – it does not necessarily mean that you have cancer, but it does need to be investigated.

If there is a problem, the test will help to pick it up early when you have the best chance of successful treatment. If bowel cancer is detected at stage one or two, you have a 98 to 88 per cent chance of survival, but this drops dramatically to 13 per cent once the cancer gets to stage 4.

You have every reason to do the test and nothing to lose. Just poo it.

Cancer Council Australia – About Bowel Cancer