June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

It's Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and as gastroenterologists, we want to strongly encourage you to be proactive about your bowel health. 

If diagnosed early, bowel cancer is one of the most treatable cancers. 

The Facts

  • 15,206 Australians are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year
  • 1 in 13 men will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime
  • 1 in 17 women will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime
  • Bowel cancer is Australia's second deadliest cancer with 101 deaths each year
  • 30% of bowel cancer cases have a family history or hereditary contribution
  • 10% of those diagnosed with bowel cancer each year are under 50 years of age 

Bowel cancer incidence rates are increasing in young people in Australia and internationally. Young people diagnosed with bowel cancer are often in later stages, which makes the cancer more difficult to treat. 

An important message that we want to share is that, Bowel Cancer is no longer an older person's disease.

Screening Saves Lives

Bowel cancer is treatable if detected early. Unfortunately, less than 50% of bowel cancers are detected early. Bowel cancer screening can detect early signs of the disease and save lives. 

There are two ways to screen for bowel cancer - 

1. The Poo Test

The Australian Government’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) sends eligible Australians, aged 50 -74 years, a free bowel cancer screening test kit. It is sent to your home address via mail every 2 years. 

If you are aged 45-49 years, you are not eligible for the NBCSP, however you can ask your GP for a test.

This test checks for tiny amounts of blood in your poo, which may not be visible to the naked eye. These tiny traces of blood may come from bowel polyps (a growth of the bowel lining) or bowel cancer. The results are sent to you and your GP. 

It is such a simple test to do and we strongly recommend that you to use this test even if you have NO SYMPTOMS.

If you do HAVE SYMPTOMS, such as a persistent change in bowel habit, unexplained abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or weight loss, please see your doctor, even if your Poo Test is negative.

Also, if you have a FAMILY HISTORY of bowel cancer, please inform your doctor as you may be eligible for earlier screening tests.

Having symptoms or a positive result on the bowel cancer screening test does not mean you have bowel cancer, there could be many other reasons. It is ALWAYS worth getting it checked. 

2. Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is a well-tolerated and safe procedure. It allows the doctor to carefully examine your bowel lining. Bowel cancer or pre-cancerous polyps can be detected, and polyps can be removed to reduce the risk of future bowel cancer.  

If you do have symptoms such as those discussed above, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy as a follow up to the Poo Test, or instead of the Poo Test.

If you have a strong family history of bowel cancer, your doctor may also recommend having a colonoscopy instead of doing the Poo Test.

How can you be proactive about your bowel health?

1. Talk to your GP

Regardless of your age, if you are concerned about any of the symptoms mentioned above, or if you have a family history of bowel cancer, please talk to your doctor.

2. Participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (if you are eligible) when your free test kit arrives in the mail.

3. Take steps to reduce your bowel cancer risk

  • Eat foods high in Vitamin D (salmon, eggs)
  • Limit intake of red meat, processed meats and alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Keep active
  • Quit smoking

Spread the word ......   Let your family, friends and neighbours know. The more we talk about this, the better. Diagnosing this cancer early, means more lives will be saved.

It’s not the easiest of topics to talk about, but it certainly is a worthwhile one.

Josh Butt.png 

Dr Joshua Butt
Gastroenterologist & Interventional Endoscopist

John Fawkner Private Hospital
267 Moreland Rd, Coburg, 3058

P 9468 9700
F 9468 9701
Visit website

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Dr Alvin Chung
Gastroenterologist & Endoscopist

Northpark Private Hospital
Cnr Plenty Rd & Greenhills Rd, Bundoora, 3083

P 9468 9700
F 9468 9701
Visit website

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Dr Soleiman Kashkooli
Gastroenterologist & Endoscopist

Suite 2A, Knox Private Hospital
262 Mountain Hwy, Wantirna, 3152

P 9468 9700
F 9468 9701
Visit website

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