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Calls to combat curable cancer -

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KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: It's estimated that three times as many Australians die from bowel cancer
each year as in road accidents.

But the disease remains a topic many people find difficult to discuss.

Now studies reveal that far from being a disease of the elderly, it's affecting an increasing
number of people under 40.

Specialists are calling for earlier screening and more education programs to combat one of the few
forms of cancer that can be prevented.

Tracy Bowden reports.

TRACY BOWDEN, REPORTER: Surgeon Graham Newstead is carrying out what could be a life-saving
procedure. He's performing a colonoscopy, checking for early signs of bowel cancer.

PROFESSOR GRAHAM NEWSTEAD, BOWEL CANCER FOUNDATION: We know that pretty much all the cancers come
from polyps. If we encounter a polyp we will remove it.

90 per cent of cancers can be prevented by screening initially.

TRACY BOWDEN: Professor Newstead is calling for earlier testing as bowel cancer strikes a rising
number of younger people.

GRAHAM NEWSTEAD: The figures show that there has been just under a two percent per annum increase
in the last decade in the younger group, the younger group being that spread from 20 to 40.

JODIE OLSEN, BOWEL CANCER SURVIVOR: Having that colonoscopy saved my life, it just saved my life.

TRACY BOWDEN: Jodie Olsen was running a busy household, with four children. Also teaching aerobics,
being a little tired was not such a surprise, but her fatigue became overwhelming.

JODIE OLSEN: I was actually organising my 40th and Christmas had just passed and the only thing
that made me think 'oh something's not right,' or brought to my attention that I was a little bit
not well was when I broke out in shingles and I was extremely tired.

TRACY BOWDEN: A series of tests revealed a much more sinister problem. Even her specialist was

JODIE OLSEN: He said 'it's cancer' and he said 'I'm totally shocked about it. I never thought this,
from when I first saw you,' he said 'you just don't fit the bill' and he said 'by the size of it,'
he said, 'I think you might have had it for quite some time. '

JODIE OLSEN: I said to him well I've got four children, am I going to die?

TRACY BOWDEN: Jodie Olsen had surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and has now been cancer free
for almost four years. Her experience means that her children need to be vigilant when it comes to
testing for cancer.

JODIE OLSEN: As far as my daughters go, they will have their first colonoscopy at 30. I was very
open with them they about everything, they saw absolutely everything, because I told them 'I don't
want you to have to go through this because it is preventable.'

TRACY BOWDEN: The Federal Government's bowel screening program offers people 50 and over the chance
to test for initial signs of cancer but many specialists believe the screening age, preferably
through colonoscopy, should be lowered.

GRAHAM NEWSTEAD: If you ask me how low, if it is 50 now, you could argue that down to 40 would be

TRACY BOWDEN: A colonoscopy at 40 might have saved Joanna Caldwell.

SALLY HERMAN, SISTER OF JOANNA CALDWELL: My sister was 42 when she was diagnosed, and she was a
really healthy person, she was active, she was fit.

TRACY BOWDEN: Joanna Caldwell, was a busy mother of two who was feeling a bit run down.

SALLY HERMAN: Within the space of five days she went from feeling off colour to being actually in
hospital having her first round of chemotherapy.

It was already very serious by the time it was discovered it had metastasised into her liver and so
she had to have very substantial treatment.

About three months later it had reoccurred and of course by that stage it had spread even further.

TRACY BOWDEN: Joanna Caldwell died 20 months after being diagnosed.

CANCER ADD: We all know the risk of breast cancer but did you know that almost as many women die,
each year, of bowel cancer and that cancer of the bowel kills just as many men. So, when you get to
40, get to the doctor.

PROFESSOR TERRY BOLIN, THE GUT FOUNDATION: Everyone is at risk, you should regard yourself as at
risk. There is no guarantee that anyone can give you about diet and medication that will prevent
cancer, yet. There may be in 10 years time but not yet.

TRACY BOWDEN: Professor Terry Bolin from the Gut Foundation says the exact causes of bowel cancer
are still not clear, but diet, environment, and genetics can all play a part.

TERRY BOLIN: One in five will have a family history or some pre existing bowel disease like
colitis, that puts them in a higher than average risk group, but four out of five we can't predict.

TRACY BOWDEN: All doctors agree, the key is to identify problems before symptoms occur.

TERRY BOLIN: If you screen, then half the cancers you find will be very early and therefore
curable, if you wait for symptoms, only one in ten will be early, so there is a huge advantage in
any screening test you do.

GRAHAM NEWSTEAD: The ideal scenario, in a perfect world, is to give everybody in the community at
risk of cancer a colonoscopy every five years with no other testing required.

TRACY BOWDEN: Joanna Caldwell's family hopes that if more people look for warning signs, and
undergo a simple medical procedure just to check, other families will be spared what they are going

SALLY HERMAN: If we can help other families understand that this is not a disease that just strikes
people in their 70s and 80s, that it's actually something that occurs in women and men in their 30s
and 40s and 50s then we feel, perhaps, that is something to go against the tragedy where we have
lost our sister and daughter and wife and mother.