Bowel Cancer Prevention
Bowel cancer is the most common internal cancer, with about 13,000 new cases each year. Each week approximately 80 Australians die from bowel cancer, making it the second most common cause of cancer death in Australia. Bowel cancer can be treated successfully if detected in its early stages, but currently fewer than 40 per cent of bowel cancers are detected early. Colonoscopy offers the best chance of early detection and cure.
Are You At Risk?
Once you have read the important information below and would like to be screened for bowel cancer, you will need to follow this procedure:
Bowel cancer can develop with few, if any, early warning symptoms. Symptoms of bowel cancer can include:
- bleeding from the rectum or any sign of blood after a bowel motion
- a recent and persistent change in bowel habit, for example looser bowel motions, severe constipation and/or needing to go to the toilet more than usual
- unexplained tiredness (a symptom of anaemia)
- abdominal pain.
Who is at Risk?
The risk of bowel cancer is greater for people who:
- Are aged 50 years and over (risk increases with age)
- Have a significant family history of bowel cancer or polyps
- Have had an inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Have previously had special types of polyps, called adenomas, in the bowel.
Bowel Cancer and Polyps
Bowel cancer usually starts from a bowel polyp. Bowel polyps are small growths on the lining of the bowel wall. They are common, especially as we age. Polyps are usually non-cancerous. However, some have the potential to develop into bowel cancer in the future.
Colonoscopy is the Best Detection Method
Colonoscopy is currently the best way of detecting and the only means of removing polyps from the bowel.
Approximately half of all Australians are likely to develop a bowel polyp during their lifetime, but the majority of these remain undetected. If polyps are left untreated, a significant percentage of polyps will develop into bowel cancer. Although polyps are very common, they rarely produce symptoms and usually are discovered by chance at the time of colonoscopy. Most polyps can be safely and completely removed during a colonoscopy to prevent development of bowel cancer.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program
Take advantage of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, which is currently in place for screening all Australian citizens aged 50, 55 and 65 without symptoms with FOBT (faecal occult blood test). Ask Direct Endoscopy staff for more detail.