A highlight of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, Red Apple Day sees Australians young and old support the work of Bowel Cancer Australia.
Bowel Cancer Australia is a 100% community-funded national charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, quality treatment and the best care for everyone affected by bowel cancer.
What is Bowel Cancer:
Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, can affect any part of the colon or rectum; it may also be referred to as colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where the cancer is located.
Most bowel cancers start as benign, non-threatening growths – called polyps – on the wall or lining of the bowel.
Polyps are usually harmless; however, adenomatous polyps can become cancerous (malignant) and if left undetected, can develop into a cancerous tumour.
Who gets Bowel Cancer:
Bowel cancer affects men and women, young and old.
Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world; 1 in 13 Australians will develop the disease in their lifetime. Bowel cancer is Australia’s second deadliest cancer.
Around 30% people who develop bowel cancer have either a hereditary contribution, family history or a combination of both. The other 70% of people have no family history of the disease and no hereditary contribution.
The risk of developing bowel cancer rises sharply and progressively from age 50, but the number of Australians under age 50 diagnosed with bowel cancer has been increasing steadily. That is why it’s important to know the symptoms of bowel cancer and have them investigated if they persist for more than two weeks.
Almost 99% of bowel cancer cases can be treated successfully when detected early.
How can I reduce the risk of bowel cancer?
Healthy diet and lifestyle choices, as well as screening and surveillance, can help to reduce your bowel cancer risk.
Evidence reveals quitting smoking, abstaining from or limiting alcohol consumption, and eating foods containing dietary fibre are all beneficial.
Maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in regular physical activity have also been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, but not rectal cancer.
Additionally, people who are more physically active before a bowel cancer diagnosis are less likely to die from the disease than those who are less active.
Bowel cancer screening is safe, easy and can be done at home.
Screening involves collecting small samples of toilet water or poo, placing them on a card or in a container, and mailing them to a pathology laboratory for analysis. The results are then sent back to the individual and their GP.
A positive result means blood in poo has been detected. It does not necessarily mean bowel cancer is present but does require further investigation by a GP and a referral for colonoscopy within 30 days.
A negative result means blood in poo has not been detected in the samples; however, it does not guarantee no cancer is present or that the person will never develop bowel cancer.
The at-home test can detect non-visible blood that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Blood in poo is one possible symptom of bowel cancer. If the result of the test is positive, the person is contacted to arrange a colonoscopy.
For people ineligible to participate in the government program, talk to your GP or pharmacist today about BowelScreen Australia, or order a screening test online or by calling Bowel Cancer Australia’s Helpline on 1800 555 494.
For more information from Bowel Cancer Australia- click the link below.