WIMMERA and Grampians practices could be part of a two-year program trialling a modern way to prevent people from developing bowel cancer.
The Western Victoria Primary Health Network is delivering a research project known as 'SMART-SCREEN', which will be overseen by the Department of General Practice University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research expert team.
In a statement, the network said the project would require general practices to send out a text message via an patient resource app called GoShare to patients aged 50 and over, asking them to take part in bowel cancer screening.
"The SMS will contain testimonial videos of individuals endorsing the benefits of cancer screening, with the aim of increasing cancer prevention and screening outcomes," it said.
The federal Department of Health offers the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program to eligible people starting at age 50 and continuing to age 74 through a free home test kit delivered every two years.
Dr Jennifer McIntosh, who is leading the research, said Western Victoria had been chosen because of its small population size. She said five clinics will take part in the trial between Geelong and the South Australian border, with another five to be used as a control group.
"If it works in a smaller region, we can then work out in to how to scale it up into a larger region," she said.
"The funding came through on February 4 from the Victorian Cancer Agency, so we are starting the whole process in March.
"We're doing it for people between 50 and 60. We know the uptake of the test kits is lowest in the 50 to 54 age group, and once people do it, 78 per cent of them are likely to do the test again.
"We also know the young people in the group eligible for test kits are more likely to have a smartphone, so it is possible to capture most of the people in that age group."
Dr McIntosh said depending on what the results of the trial showed, researchers would trial SMS notifications for other kinds of chronic health issues.
The Department of Health says Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world, with around one in 23 Australians developing bowel cancer during their lifetime.
The state government's Better Health Channel says screening is important as bowel cancer can develop without noticeable symptoms.
The latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows there are around 69 new cases of colorectal cancers in the Grampians region - encompassing the council areas between Edenhope and Ararat - per year, and around 25 deaths. The average age of diagnosis in the region is 73.
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