Bowel Cancer screening – Eat a Red Apple and don’t “NO” your genetics

Etienne Reiss urges health professionals to help in the fight against bowel cancer, the second biggest cancer killer in Australia, ahead of Red Apple Day.

  I was engaging in conversation on an interesting perspective recently in relation to the prevention and treatment of cancer where bowel cancer screening took over as the dominant discussion point. The discussion propagated from the recent release of the 2017 Bowel Cancer Screening program monitoring report within which it is declared that less than 40% of invitees actually participated in the national bowel screening program during the 2014/5 reporting period, which begs the question why more people aren’t engaged in bowel cancer prevention through early detection. My perspective is that there is quite possibly a fundamental chasm between the understanding of a problem versus the understanding of a solution, and that knowledge is the intricately suspended hang-bridge of pro-activity. How does anyone respond favourably to the bowel cancer screening “solution” when they don’t understand the “problem” first?  

In a general population survey which I had conducted surrounding cancer awareness , very few respondents actually managed to place bowel cancer in the top 5 most diagnosed cancers in Australia, often waning to breast, skin, prostate, lung and even brain cancer. Although these cancers largely do present with significant concerns, it is the fact that the 2nd largest cancer killer seldom strikes a thought which itself presents a significant concern. If we could successfully first educate the public about bowel cancer, then we might actually increase the propensity to a “potential” solution. Bowel Cancer Australia which is the largest bowel cancer advocacy and support organisation in Australia, endeavours to raise awareness about bowel cancer, and their Red Apple day on the 21st of June remains the highlight of the June Bowel Cancer Awareness month. How will you bring attention to the day?  

The very nature of a hang bridge could be grossly precarious if not all the elements are firm, and despite medical guidelines and access to bowel screening, it is the knowledge of identifiable risk factors which certainly would aid in the fight against a disease which is 90% preventable or at least treatable. If genetics is a major risk factor which increases the possibility for developing bowel cancer, then how is a patient risk profiled when their first degree relative may not yet have been diagnosed with bowel cancer. “Have your parents ever screened for bowel cancer” in addition to “do you have any family history of bowel cancer” is a question which may turn ignorance into bliss.  

I encourage all practices to get behind bowel cancer awareness and to place red apples on your reception desks on the 21st of June. More information about red apple day can be found at


Breonny RobsonNational Sales and Marketing manager – Clinical Genomics Etienne Reiss
17 years industry experience within the medical & surgical sector. Etienne has worked within a theatre environment providing technology for the treatment of cancer. He has been at the forefront of medical innovation launching therapies including microwave & radio-frequency ablation of cancers, image guidance for navigation & minimally invasive procedures to surgical staplers for surgical resection of cancers. He is currently working with Clinical Genomics to try & prevent cancer through early detection as well as through monitoring for recurrence.