Essential bowel cancer screening service for residents of Blacktown and surrounds

The Rapid Access FOBT Clinic team at Blacktown Hospital
Note: photo was taken at time where mask wearing was not required.

Arturo ‘Art’ Fernando Junior is in good health following a cancer scare late last year thanks to rapid care he accessed at Blacktown Hospital.

More than 5,800 people in NSW are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year. However, if detected early, 90 per cent of cases can be successfully treated.

To aid early detection, the Rapid Access FOBT Clinic was established at Blacktown Hospital in March 2021 to expedite access to colonoscopy for patients with a positive faecal occult blood test (FOBT). The service also operates at Westmead Hospital.

The faecal occult blood test (FOBT) has been instrumental in aiding early detection of bowel cancer as it can be done in the privacy of your own home. Eligible Australians from 50 to 74 years of age are sent a free, simple test that is done at home to aid early detection.

This was the case for Glenwood resident Art. Late last year, the 66-year-old returned a positive test so his GP referred him to the Rapid Access FOBT Clinic at Blacktown Hospital.

Thankfully, Art is in good health – and is proof of why early detection is key.

I had a very good experience at the Rapid Access FOBT Clinic and commend the doctors, nurses and staff,” said Art.

“Everyone kept checking on me and let me know what‘s going to happen next so I didn’t feel nervous or anxious at all. It was a pleasant experience.”

The clinic offers a high quality and comprehensive service led by a specialised team of clinicians and nursing staff to residents living in the Blacktown Local Government Area.

Since its inception, the clinic has consulted 270 patient referrals from local GPs.

“It’s wonderful that we have this evidence-based and essential service at the doorstep for our local residents,” said Blacktown Hospital Gastroenterology Head of Department Dr Farzan Bahin.

“Patient-reported outcomes are a cornerstone of high-quality care provision, and our aim as a department is to provide patients with a process that is efficient, smooth, preventative and enhances communication between the hospital, patient and the primary care provider.”

Blacktown Hospital gastroenterology clinical nurse consultant Marriam Mohseni is responsible for processing patients and categorising their treatment plan using ‘Direct Access Colonoscopy’.

Working closely with the gastroenterology clinicians, Marriam co-ordinates endoscopic procedures, patient follow-up and liaises with the referring primary care provider.

“Direct Access Colonoscopy is a quick and easy phone conversation where the patient is not required to attend the hospital for this consultation,” explained Marriam.

“By speaking directly with the patient, I can complete the initial assessment, explain the processes and what to expect, and how to prepare for the procedures.”

Patients can be referred to the Rapid Access FOBT Clinic at Blacktown Hospital by their GP. For further information, please call 8670 0068 or click here.

The clinic is an initiative between Western Sydney Local Health District, NSW Health Leading Value Better Care and the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.