Bowel Cancer: Signs, Symptoms and Giving Yourself The Best Chance at Treatment

Bowel Cancer claims the lives of 5,000 Australians every year. It the third most diagnosed cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer related death.

Early detection and treatment of bowel cancer greatly reduces the nature and extent of the disease, saving lives. Improved education, practices and procedures in screening and detecting symptoms have had a profound impact in reducing the incidence of incurable bowel cancer disease.

For individuals with a family history of bowel cancer it is of upmost importance to regularly check in with their medical practitioners to ensure they are educated on what signs and symptoms to look out for and how to mitigate their risk.

Unfortunately, we still see failures to investigate concerning signs or symptoms in patients causing catastrophic harm and premature death.

Signs and symptoms that patients and medical practitioners ought to discuss and investigate include:
• Bowel bleeding
• Blood in the stool
• Unexplained Changes in bowel habits
• Unexplained weight loss
• Abdominal discomfort
• Fatigue
• Anaemia

There are a number of investigations and procedures (such as a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy) that can diagnose and treat early stages of bowel cancer. Often with great results when discovered early.

Failure to investigate and treat the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer leads to material differences in outcome causing serious injury and sometimes death.

What can you do to minimise your risk?
• Speak to family members regarding the incidence of cancer in your family
• Ensure your treatment doctors know of any relevant family history
• Speak to your GP regarding any concerning signs and symptoms
• When in doubt seek a second opinion
• Speak to your GP about the National Bowel Screen Program