To best understand which lifestyle changes are going to work for you in taking preventative measures against Bowel Cancer, we need to first understand what causes Bowel Cancer, who’s at risk and what bowel cancer prevention really means.
What causes bowel cancer?
In the vast majority of cases the exact cause of bowel cancer is unknown, however there are a number of different risk factors which are known to contribute to its development, including:
- Dietary factors – Following a great deal of discussion and research, certain foods (e.g. processed fatty foods) have been linked to increasing the risk of bowel cancer, so it makes sense that avoiding them will contribute to preventing the disease from manifesting. Remember, while dietary changes MAY reduce bowel cancer risks in populations, it does not guarantee that any one person will be free of the disease.
- Genetic factors – Bowel cancer is more common in those with a strong family history of the disease – the more relatives affected by bowel cancer (especially close family members such as parents and siblings) at a young age, the greater the risk. There are also a number of specific genetic syndromes that have been identified as increasing the risk of bowel cancer. If you have any concerns about your family history, speak with your GP about a referral.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease – typically, the risk of bowel cancer increases with the extent, severity and duration of the disease, with research showing that the risk is greater where the whole colon is involved, and the disease has been more active and present for a number of years. Regular colonoscopies are necessary to detect early changes associated with an increased risk of bowel cancer.
- Bowel Polyps – Polyps come in various shapes and sizes and can be made up of different cells. Significant polyps are called adenomas; these adenomas are of importance as they may grow and become malignant. This is why they are considered a precursor to bowel cancer, with the risk increasing with the size of the polyp. Colonoscopies remain the best method to detect and the only means to remove bowel polyps.
Who is at risk of bowel cancer?
Strictly speaking, everyone is at risk of developing bowel cancer, however the risks are greater for people who:
- Are 50 years of age or older
- Have a notable family history of bowel cancer or polyps
- Have had an inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s
- Have already had adenomas in the bowel
When it comes to preventing and curing diseases, you have more power than you think!
Our website has loads more of easy to access information and our friendly staff is always on hand to help. Please read through our Doctor’s Referral page, or call our staff for the right appointment for you. You’ll find us conveniently located across Melbourne, offering the latest in tools and techniques and with a highly experienced and professional team ready to take care of you.
What can you do to prevent bowel cancer from developing?
Currently bowel cancer is responsible for the deaths of 80 Australians each week, making it the second most common cause of cancer death. It’s vitally important to understand that bowel cancer can be treated successfully when detected in early stages.
Unfortunately, and partly due to patients not having enough information about their symptoms, currently less than 40% of bowel cancers are detected early.
Colonoscopy offers the best chance of early detection and cure. Here are a few easy tips on how you can help lower these numbers, and take positive steps towards a healthy future:
- EAT A BALANCED AND NUTRITIOUS DIET
- DETERMINE AND MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT FOR YOU
- EXERCISE REGULARLY
- LIMIT ALCOHOL INTAKE
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