How can we raise awareness that Rockhampton is a bowel cancer hotspot?

How can we raise awareness that Rockhampton is a bowel cancer hotspot?

Rockhampton is between 14 and 22% above the national average for excess or preventable bowel cancer deaths, according to data on the Australian Cancer Atlas that aggregates official national cancer data. The worst in the state is Mt Isa at 32% above, Torres Straight Islands are 31%, Warwick at 27%, then Rockhampton at 14-22%, and Biloela, which is 20% above. Specifically, The Range-Allenstown is 22%, Park Avenue 15%, and Rockhampton City and Lakes Creek are 14% above the national average for excess or preventable bowel cancer deaths.

Our opportunity is, we can become game day sponsors of the Capras-Jets QRL game on 15 July, but we need assistance to cover the cost of doing so.

Attached is a proposal asking if any Capricornia Chamber of Commerce Members wish to assist us with the costs of helping to raise awareness of bowel cancer in your region. Given the profile of the Capras and the amount of coverage we’ll attract, this will be of significant benefit to your community.

Apart from saving lives, this will also help prevent financial hardship for those whose bowel cancers we can detect early, which means more disposable income staying in your local economy. Apart from the loss of income to those in treatment, they are likely to have high out-of-pocket costs; 1/3 have between $2500 to $5000, 1/4 between $5000 and $10,000, and some as much as $50,000. It is devasting for those affected. Treatment alone costs the health system $120,000 per patient and $1.1 billion in total annually.

If we can raise the required amount through your members, we will give your organisation 50 of our bowel cancer test kits to distribute as your Members see fit. You may like to partner with local organisations, such as Salvation Army, or give them to SES or volunteer firefighters. These kits are best distributed to those under 50 or 75 and over because they are not covered by the free Government bowel cancer test program. Under 50’s are 12% of cases, and over 75s are 43% of cases but 58% of deaths.

Included in the document is information on the possibility of raising awareness of bowel cancer in your Member’s businesses. In 2021, Rockhampton Regional Council, Banana Shire, Central Highland Regional Shire, Noosa Shire, and Toowoomba Regional Council partnered with Queensland Health and ourselves to raise awareness of bowel cancer during the respective Council’s OH&S Awareness Week in October. Typically during that week, they raise awareness of various health issues among their staff, such as skin cancer, blood pressure, heart health, diabetes, and healthy lifestyle choices to aid their welfare. Queensland Health spoke to Council staff about bowel cancer to promote the use of the free government test kits, of which only 41% are returned. Councils also bought our test kits in bulk at a 20% discount and distributed them to under-age 50 staff members. 

Something to consider is that people between the ages of 25-44 may quit smoking to avoid lung cancer, put on sunscreen to avoid skin cancer and do monthly checks for breast or testicular cancer, but the cancer that is most likely to kill them is bowel cancer. By 2030, it is predicted that bowel cancer will be the number one cancer causing death among those under 50. Since 1982, the incidence of bowel cancer for 20-39-year-olds has increased 197% while older demographics have reduced between 20 and 24%, which is a really disturbing trend. Australia is number one for the incidence of bowel cancer between the ages of 15-49, and Australian women are number nine. 

We suggest your Members might consider a similar program for their businesses. As we point out in the document, it costs $572 each day a staff member is absent, so a four-month absence costs over $65,000, according to an Australian HR Institute survey. So a $20 kit is an excellent return for the business, not just in money terms but also in terms of staff morale and proving to be a caring employer.

Finally, if any of your Members own pharmacies, we offer a 20% discount to them to sell our kits at the retail price of $25. We provide countertop displays and have generic articles to supply to local print and online media, promoting either a single pharmacy or a group. The message is that pharmacies are stocking our test kits as a community service to their customers.

Click PDF link to read the full proposal

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