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Raising awareness now and into the future

16/03/2022

His affiliation with Cabrini started from birth, but the legacy Professor Paul McMurrick has created will last long in to the future.

Prof McMurrick was born at the hospital and then started as a student in 1987. He then began as a colorectal surgeon consultant at Cabrini in 1997 and is now Cabrini’s Head of the Department of Surgery.

Prof McMurrick is responsible for the public education, research and academic aspects of the treatment of bowel cancer at Cabrini, and is also the Chairman of Let’s Beat Bowel Cancer.

With a string of awards and accolades, it was only fitting to interview him as part of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month (March).

In a bid to raise awareness of colorectal cancer and to build support for more research to improve treatments and ultimately better outcomes for those diagnosed, we spoke to Prof McMurrick about Cabrini’s role in the community and why knowledge of colorectal cancer was more important than ever.

Prof McMurrick said bowel cancer affected around one in 16 Australian men and one in 24 Australian women, with about 17,000 Australians diagnosed every year.

“It’s a disease that is stage dependent, hence in many cases it can be prevented and, if diagnosed and treated early, most patients can be saved,” Prof McMurrick said.

He said all Australians over the age of 40 should have a clear strategy for screening for bowel cancer, and the best way to ensure a personalised approach was to discuss this with your GP or specialist.

“The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, which sends faecal occult blood tests to all Australians over the age of 50, is suitable for most people. It’s incredibly simple to be ‘bowel cancer aware’, to make yourself familiar with the symptoms to watch out for, to participate in primary prevention through healthy living and to undertake screening tests as required.”

Prof McMurrick said Cabrini treated more patients with bowel cancer than any other private or public hospital in Victoria, and performed thousands of colonoscopies each year to help with prevention and diagnosis.

He said for decades Cabrini had been a leader in world-class research, which enabled our experts to bring the latest breakthroughs in treatment, technology and innovation to our patients.

“We run a major research program that examines the causes of bowel cancer, prevention of bowel cancer and optimising treatment for patients with bowel cancer, including our organoid program which allows research into personalised treatment for patients to help select who is most suited for chemotherapy and other treatments in association with surgery.”

Prof McMurrick added that Cabrini also has three full-time post-doctoral research fellows who are 100 per cent dedicated to research in bowel cancer treatment.

“We also run a substantial public education program on bowel cancer through Let’s Beat Bowel Cancer,” He said.

Let’s Beat Bowel Cancer is a not-for-profit initiative of Cabrini with a vision to significantly lower deaths related to bowel cancer through public awareness, research and medical advances.

Prof McMurrick said Bowel Cancer Awareness Week should act as a reminder for everyone each year to make sure we are up to date with consultations with our GP and to make sure to discuss our own bowel cancer screening strategy.

For more information, go to www.cabrini.com.au/cancer or for more information on Let’s Beat Bowel Cancer, go to www.letsbeatbowelcancer.com.au