Why you should give a sh*t about your bowels this February

When you think of the deadliest cancers in Australia, what comes in to mind for the top three? Breast cancer? Skin cancer? Brain cancer? In fact, bowel cancer comes in 2nd.  And February is all about why you shouldn’t wait until it’s too late.

As one of the most treatable types of cancer with prompt treatment, early detection is key for bowel cancer. Cancer Council Australia explains what to keep a lookout for when it comes to your poop chute.

  • Bleeding from the back passage or any sign of blood after a bowel motion
  • A change in usual bowel habit, such as straining (constipation) to go to the toilet or loose motions (diarrhoea)
  • Abdominal pain or bloating
  • Weight loss for no obvious reason, or loss of appetite
  • Symptoms of anaemia, including unexplained tiredness, weakness or breathlessness.

Luckily, Australia is on the ball for early detection. Since 2006, we’ve been rolling out the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program for free to Aussies turning 50, 54, 58, 60, 62, 64, 65, 68, 70, 72 or 74 years of age. 

On the other hand, the disease is on the rise with younger Australians. In the last 10 years, colon cancer incidence has risen by 9.3% per year. Researchers speculate that it could coincide with higher rates of lifestyle risk factors, such as obesity. 

Before you pick up the pitchforks and question why the screening age isn’t being broadened to those under 50, there’s a good reason. Starting screening even ten years earlier may drop the incidence of bowel cancer, however it would have a domino effect on the wait time of colonoscopies, limiting the procedure for those at higher risk. 

So not only this month, but throughout your life, keep the symptoms in mind and visit your doctor if you notice anything off!

For more information on bowel cancer, head to www.bowelcanceraustralia.org 

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