Bowel Cancer Australia has taken the novel step of running a competition – with a $5000 gold nugget in the shape of a poo – to get the message out to young adults that colorectal cancer in increasingly their business.
Bowel cancer is the No.1 cancer killer in Australians aged 25 to 29 – also known as ageing millennials.
This is a relatively new trend that is not well understood at a clinical level, and probably not that well known among young people.
It’s a situation that has crept up on researchers and public health bodies.
Scientists about a decade ago noticed an oddity in the data: While overall rates of colorectal cancer had fallen dramatically since the mid-1980s – especially in countries such as Australia where free at-home testing is provided – there was a small but steady increase among people younger than 50.
To reverse this trend requires young people to understand, acknowledge the threat, visit their GPs regularly – and take notice of what their bodies are doing.
Where the generational divide becomes deadly
This isn’t so easy when you’re dealing with a generation that faces serious challenges in securing home ownership, reliable long-term employment and have largely tuned out from the old media, including news outlets.
They are likely the first generation in more than 100 years to be worse off than their parents – and we know this because they are the most studied generation in relation to their attitudes to business, work and mobility. Their attitudes to health care, not so much.
If it’s true, as is commonly discussed, that millennials have fostered an attitude that nothing will last, how are we to convince them to take health warnings seriously?
The specific problem is bowel cancer is frequently dismissed as the disease for old men who eat their giant steaks charred.
Government testing is rightly made available to people over 50, and much of the government information is targeted at old people.
So how do you get the word out to a generation whose approach to getting information is tied up with social media – a platform that has proved to be a not-always-reliable source of information.
Maybe make a game of it
Bowel Cancer Australia, perhaps recognising that the millennial generation might take more notice of something glittery and expensive than a blood-spotted stool and other icky symptoms of a compromised colon, have a launched a campaign that combines education with the chances to win riches.
Bowel Cancer Australia CEO Julien Wiggins said the social media campaign is designed as an innovative way to get over the yuck factor as anyone, regardless of age, can experience bowel cancer symptoms.
“While bowel cancer is more common in Australians over 50, almost one in 10 new cases now occur in those under 50, with rates rising in this age group. Bowel cancer is now the deadliest cancer for those aged
25 to 29,” he said.
“We know 98 per cent of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated if detected early, but currently fewer than 50 per cent are. People and their GPs need to recognise and promptly investigate symptoms, to
rule out bowel cancer as an underlying cause.”
So take the quiz below and go in the draw for a chance to win a beautifully hand-crafted Golden Nugget in the shape of a poo worth $5000.
Don’t be browned off if you don’t win. A little education just might save your life.