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  • Writer's pictureSummers Avenue Family Medical Practice

Bowel Cancer Awareness: Taking Proactive Steps for Early Detection

June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month


June marks Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about one of Australia's most prevalent yet treatable cancers. Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, affects the colon or rectum, it is the second deadliest cancer in Australia, claiming 101 lives each week. However, early detection significantly increases the chances of successful treatment and survival.


Risk Factors and Symptoms


Several risk factors increase the likelihood of developing bowel cancer, including age (most common in individuals over 50), and  family history of the disease. Symptoms to watch for include changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain, and fatigue. If these symptoms persist for more than two weeks, it is crucial to consult a doctor.


The Importance of Screening


Regular screening is vital for early detection of bowel cancer. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program provides free, simple test kits to eligible Australians aged 50 to 74. From July 2024, the eligible age range will expand to include those aged 45 to 74. The screening test detects tiny amounts of blood in the stool, which can be an early sign of cancer. With early detection, over 90% of bowel cancers can be successfully treated.


Prevention and Lifestyle Changes


While some risk factors like age and family history cannot be controlled, lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the risk of bowel cancer. Maintaining a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, limiting processed meats, staying physically active, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol can all contribute to better bowel health.


Your Role in Bowel Cancer Awareness


We urge all patients to take an active role in their health. Participate in regular screenings, be aware of the symptoms, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you have concerns or a family history of bowel cancer, discuss screening options with your GP. Early detection through routine testing is key to combating this disease and ensuring a healthier future for all.



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