Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in Australia, with approximately 300 Australians being told they have bowel cancer each week.

If bowel cancer is detected early, it is one of the most treatable cancers. We encourage you to be proactive about your health and if you have persistent symptoms, discuss these with your doctor.

Possible symptoms of bowel cancer include –

  • blood in your poo or rectal bleeding
  • a recent and persistent change in bowel habit
  • abdominal pain and swelling
  • pain or presence of a lump in the anus or rectum
  • unexplained anaemia causing tiredness and/or weakness
  • unexplained weight loss

If you have any of these symptoms and they persist for more than two weeks, please visit your doctor. It may be nothing to worry about, but it’s always better to have it checked.

Your doctor may suggest further investigation with a colonoscopy. During this procedure, your bowel will be carefully inspected and small tissue biopsies may be taken, or polyps (growths of the bowel lining) removed. Some polyps can be pre-cancerous, so removal reduces the risk of developing bowel cancer in the future.

A colonoscopy is the best test to assess bowel polyps and either exclude or diagnose bowel cancer.

It is important to note that in the early stages of bowel cancer, there may be no symptoms.

This is why bowel cancer screening can be so useful. It is one of the most effective ways to detect early signs of this disease.

There are two ways you can screen for bowel cancer, the Poo Test (for those with no symptoms) or via a colonoscopy procedure. Learn more about these options and whether you are eligible here.

If you have a family history of bowel cancer, please let your doctor know as you will likely be eligible for earlier screening.

Disclaimer – This article is for general information and educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice. Always consult a registered health professional regarding any health-related diagnosis or treatment options.