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Seniors Festival - a festive time for cutting your cancer risk

Friday 5 October, 2012

It's a truth universally acknowledged that as we age, our health can take a bit of a beating. Bones start to creak, gravity takes hold of our bodies in ways we never suspected could happen, and, to add insult to injury, our risk of cancer rises.

In fact ageing is one of the main risk factors when it comes to cancers like breast cancer and bowel cancer with the majority of people diagnosed with these cancers aged 50 or older.

It's not all bad news though, because as we also know, with age comes wisdom - and retirement - from traditional work at least. More time to contemplate the important things like golf and/or travel and/or grandchildren and/or gardening and/or volunteering.

There's also the fun of activities like the Victorian Seniors Festival which "kicks off" this week.

It's a time when more experienced Victorians are invited to take part in a wide range of activities including lunches, music and trivia, yoga and even tours of historic properties.

And as part of the Seniors Festival festivities, the CYCR team will be spreading the good word about staying healthy and active as you age, eating well and screening for cancers including bowel, breast and skin cancer.

As we've stated above, the statistics here in Victoria show that the majority of men and women diagnosed with bowel and breast cancers are aged 50 and older. And SunSmart reports that two-thirds of Victorians diagnosed with melanoma are aged 55 or older.

Cancer Councils across the country (and the National Health and Medical Research Council which advises the Federal Government) recommend men and women complete a bowel cancer screening test called an FOBT or faecal occult blood test, every two years once they reach the age of 50.

They also recommend women have a mammogram (breast x-ray) every two years from the age of 50 once they've weighed up the pros and cons of screening.

While breast screening is free, there may be a cost involved with bowel cancer screening as free tests are currently only available for men and women aged 50, 55 and 65 via the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. The good news is that this year the Federal Government pledged to expand the national program so all Australians 50+ will be screened for free, every two years. (This won't happen immediately so, in the meantime, you can find out how to buy an FOBT by calling the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.)

And just because you're older and wiser, doesn't mean you can forget about sun protection or getting your skin checked for melanoma. As SunSmart says, it's never too late to protect your skin.

You may think the damage to your skin has already been done and it doesn't matter - but as the stats show, using sun protection by slipping on a shirt, slopping on sunscreen, slapping on a hat, seeking shade and sliding on sunglasses is extremely important. No matter what your age, it's never too late to reduce your risk and prevent further damage

Over 95% of skin cancers can be successfully treated if found early so getting familiar with your skin is also important. If you notice any unusual spots, lumps or bumps see your doctor.

So, if you have time in between all your seniors' festivities - we suggest you book in for a health check up and make sure you're up to date with your appropriate cancer screening tests.

Is anyone planning anything special for the Victorian Seniors Festival?

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