Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

June has been Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. This is a Bowel Cancer Australia initiative to raise awareness of Australia’s second deadliest cancer. It helps raise funds for the leading community-funded charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment.

Did you know that Bowel cancer claims the lives of 103 Australians every week (5,375 people a year). This is despite the fact that it’s one of the most treatable types of cancer if found early enough.

The risk of developing bowel cancer increases significantly with age. It does not discriminate regarding gender. It affects men and women, young and old. 1 in 13 Australians will be diagnosed with bowel cancer in their lifetime. A massive 15,604 Australians will be diagnosed with the disease this year.

Red Apple Day

A highlight of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month was Red Apple Day (Wednesday, 19 June 2019). Australians were encouraged to support the vital work of Bowel Cancer Australia. They did this by purchasing a Bowel Cancer Awareness Ribbon and other apple themed fundraising activities.

Bowel Cancer Australia History

Bowel Cancer Australia was formed by a small team of specialists. They focused on a better health future for the patients they treated and all Australians. not only for the patients they treated but for all Australians.

They were lucky enough to receive a very generous patient donation in 2000. This allowed them to team up to establish the charity now known as Bowel Cancer Australia. They are the only dedicated national charity aimed at raising awareness of and funding research into bowel cancer. These health professionals are truly committed to screening and the treatment of bowel cancer. The team believed the way forward was increased funding for research and raised awareness. They actively encourage people to screen for the disease. Australia could really see a huge reduction in the unnecessary high rate of deaths from the disease.

From its very humble beginnings, Bowel Cancer Australia has grown to become the leading community-funded charity. Their efforts are dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research and quality treatment. They campaign for better care for everyone affected by bowel cancer.

They provide critical programs in every Australian state and territory. This together with meaningful collaborations around the world, Bowel Cancer Australia makes real change happen across the entire continuum of care.

If bowel cancer is detected early it can be successfully treated and eradicated. This means patients and their families can continue to enjoy a healthy life. Symptoms to look out for

Common symptoms of bowel cancer can include:

  • A recent, persistent change in bowel habit This might be seen as looser, more diarrhoea-like bowel movements. It could be constipation, or smaller more frequent bowel movements. Going to the toilet more often, or trying to go – irregularity in someone whose bowel movements have previously been regular may also be a sign.
  • A change in shape or appearance of bowel movements For example, narrower stools than usual or mucus in stools.
  • Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding Bright red or very dark blood should never be ignored and you should seek immediate advice from your Doctor.
  • Frequent gas pain or cramps. A feeling of fullness or bloating in the bowel or rectum.
  • A feeling that the bowel has not emptied completely after a bowel movement
  • Unexplained anaemia A low red blood count causing tiredness, weakness or weight loss.
  • Rectal/anal pain or a lump in the rectum/anus
  • Abdominal pain or swelling A lump of mass in your tummy.

Not everyone experiences symptoms. This is particularly true in the early stages of bowel cancer.  The above symptoms may be suggestive of bowel cancer. They can also be due to other medical conditions, some foods or medicines.

Don’t put off talking to your GP if you are experiencing any of the described symptoms for two weeks or more. If you can get an early diagnosis around 9 % of cases can be successfully treated.