Bowel Cancer Awareness Month
June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month throughout Australia. According to Bowel Cancer Australia 80 people die from bowel cancer in Australia every week, making it the 2nd deadliest cancer in the country.
Bowel Cancer Australia advocates early detection, and so it’s very important to visit your local GP should you be worried about any of the warning symptoms.
Bowel Cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, can affect men and women of any age, and usually starts as benign, non-threatening growths:
Polyps are usually harmless; however, adenomatous polyps can become cancerous (malignant) and if left undetected, can develop into a cancerous tumour.
In advanced cases, the cancerous tumour can spread (metastasise) beyond the bowel to other organs.
Bowel Cancer Australia
The symptoms of Bowel Cancer
The early stages of bowel cancer often present no symptoms, which is why bowel cancer screening is important.
Park Medical Group urges you to visit your GP should you notice any of the following persisting for longer than a fortnight (2 weeks):
- Blood in the stool
- A recent, persistent change in bowel habit
- A change in shape/consistency of the stool/poo
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Unexplained anaemia
- A feeling that the bowel has not emptied completely
- Unexplained fatigue
Your risk of bowel cancer increases if you smoke, eat red meat (especially charred), eating processed meats, drinking alcohol or being overweight. You can find more information on the Bowel Cancer Australia website. These risks can be modified by making changes to lifestyle and diet.
Bowel cancer can also be inherited genetically – your risk category depends on how many relatives have had bowel cancer and their age at diagnosis.
How to reduce your risk of Bowel Cancer
You can reduce your risk of Bowel Cancer by:
- Not smoking
- Eating healthily
- Being active
- Limiting alcohol
Bowel Cancer Screening
According to Bowel Cancer Australia, by 2020 Australia will have a ‘tax-payer funded National Bowel Cancer Screening Program […]’ whereby people aged 50 – 74 will receive a tax-payer funded screening test in the mail every 2 years.’
This test will alert users as to whether or not they should make an appointment with a GP to investigate their results further.
Bowel Cancer Australia states that people who have a family history of bowel cancer need extra testing in order to detect bowel cancer as early as possible – this can include having a colonoscopy every five years, and possibly ‘taking low-dose aspirin regularly from age 25.’
For more information on bowel cancer, and to learn more about reducing your risk, visit the Bowel Cancer Australia website.
If you are concerned about your risk of developing bowel cancer, or believe you may be experiencing the early warning symptoms of bowel cancer, please do not hesitate to contact Park Medical Group for an appointment with one of our doctors to discuss further screening options.