Cancer Council WA is asking people over 40 in regional WA to make their health a priority in the first month of the new decade by familiarising themselves with the two different ways to detect cancer early.
Cancer Council WA's Wheatbelt regional education officer Melissa Pickering said one way to detect cancer early was to be "symptom aware" and visit your local medical clinic if symptoms exist.
Ms Pickering said the second way was to participate in the readily available, and free, population screening.
"The Find Cancer Early program aims to increase awareness of the symptoms of the five most common cancers - prostate, breast, skin, bowel and lung cancer - which make up around 60 per cent of cancer diagnoses in WA," Ms Pickering said.
Ms Pickering recommended people become symptom aware in 2020 by printing off the cancer symptom checklist from www.findcancerearly.com and putting it on the bathroom mirror or fridge as a regular reminder.
She said a 2019 survey showed one in nine regional WA people surveyed didn't have their symptoms investigated due to an assumption that participation in population screening was sufficient.
"With bowel and breast screening programs occurring at two year intervals, this leaves one in nine regional Western Australians at risk of a later stage cancer diagnosis due to confusion around when and how to respond to the symptoms of common cancers," she said.
"It's important to remember screening tests like bowel cancer screening kits and mammograms are designed for people who aren't experiencing symptoms," Ms Pickering said.
"Remember, the earlier cancer is found, the greater the chance of successful treatment."
Cancer Council WA recommends being proactive about your health, with our without symptoms, but to seek medical attention quickly if ever you experience any of the below symptoms:
- If you find blood in your poo, blood in your pee or you've coughed up blood, even just on one occasion, it needs to be discussed with a doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker straight away.
- If for more than three weeks you have noticed any changes to your bowel habits, including runny poo, pooing more often or constipation, make an appointment at your local medical clinic.
- Similarly, if for more than four weeks you've noticed problems peeing, unexplained weight loss, an unusual pain, lump or swelling anywhere in your body, or you are short of breath or have a persistent cough, see a doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker.