A little-known fact is that bowel cancer kills more Australians per year than breast or prostate cancer. It is referred to as the ‘silent killer’ because there are virtually no symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage.
With more than 13,500 Australians diagnosed each year, and those over the age of 50 most at risk, medical experts recommend having yourself screened for bowel cancer every year.
Detecting bowel cancer
Colon cancer develops from small growths inside the bowel or rectum called polyps. The cause of bowel cancer is unknown, but factors including diet and weight are thought to play a significant part.
Most bowel cancers leave few tell-tale signs but catching the cancer early can make a huge difference. More than 90 per cent of people survive colon cancer when it is detected early.
Signs and symptoms
- Blood on the stool or toilet paper. This is almost invisible and may happen only intermittently, but can become more noticeable as the cancer progresses.
- Stomach discomfit, gas, and a change in bowel habits.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Lack of energy or feeling tired. This can be a result of having fewer red blood cells and a lack or iron in your body.
Who is at risk?
Generally, people aged over 50 are most at risk, but bowel cancer can happen to anyone. People who are at a higher risk are those who have:
- A family history or personal history of bowel cancer or polyps.
- A history of chronic bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s Disease, Colitis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Regardless of your age, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms you could be at risk.
It’s important to keep a healthy bowel, and this can be done easily by following a few pieces of advice from Bowel Cancer Australia:
- Eat a diet high in fibre and low in fat. Eat five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit per day.
- Exercise to maintain a healthy body weight.
- Don’t smoke.
- Limit alcohol to no more than two, and one, standard drinks per day, for men and women respectively.
A bowel cancer screen is recommended for people aged 50 years and over every one to two years.
If you are concerned that you might have bowel cancer, or you recognise having any of the above symptoms, see your GP straight away.
An immunochemical bowel screening test can also be purchased online and completed at home. It is simple, highly accurate and non-invasive. Buy one here.
Read more: www.bowelcanceraustralia.org