Early search is key

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on November 4, 2017

LOWLANDS resident Brad Kneebone was diagnosed with advanced cancerous tumours in his prostate at just 65 years old.

Now 76 years old and having just finished a six-week run of radiation therapy on Tuesday, Mr Kneebone said if an early detection campaign had been active back in 2006, he certainly would have responded earlier to his homeopath and GP’s suggestions of getting his elevated Prostate-Specific Antigen levels checked.

Find Cancer Early is a current media campaign by the Cancer Council aimed at promoting early cancer detection in regional people over the age of 40.

The campaign was first launched in 2011, and received $1.6 million in additional funding from the Department of Health last month, in order to maintain the campaign until December 2020.

Find Cancer Early seeks to encourage regional people over 40 to alert their doctors of any unusual symptoms without delay, and will focus on bowel, lung, prostate, breast and skin cancer.

“There will be TV, radio, print and online advertising, social media activity, an upgraded website and education opportunities including presentations to local groups by Cancer Council WA,” Cancer Council media manager Natacha Hammond said of the revitalised campaign.

“As well as increasing symptom awareness, the campaign aims to break down some of the barriers and myths to seeking help.”

People living in regional areas of WA are more likely to die within five years of a cancer diagnosis than people in metropolitan areas, according to Cancer Council CEO Ashley Reid.

“Your survival prospects following a cancer diagnosis should not be determined by your postcode,” he said.

“Find Cancer Early is all about addressing the disparity that exists between outcomes of regional and metropolitan cancer patients.”

Current cancer patient Mr Kneebone believes the Find Cancer Early campaign’s continuation will be highly advantageous to regional people, particularly for those who don’t always prioritise their health.

“Living in the country, I believe many of us, we men in particular, are slow to look after our health,” he said.

“The Find Cancer Early campaign is intended to keep us more alert about our bodies and respond more actively when things don’t seem right.

“Up to now, country folk generally have had poorer survival rates because of later detection and treatment.

“Where health is concerned, we need to think also about the families and people around us who will also suffer if we ignore our health.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that the Find Cancer Early campaign will prove to be hugely beneficial to country people in making us more aware of the need to be more proactive about our health.”

In the 2016/2017 financial year, 600 guests in the Cancer Council’s lodges in Perth were from the Great Southern.

This represented about 20 per cent of the total number of guests from regional WA.

To get involved in the Find Cancer Early campaign, you can visit findcancerearly.com.au.