10years

Abdominal x-ray

An x-ray of the organs in the abdomen.  An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.



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Anorectal Manometry

Anorectal manometry is a test done to assess the function and strength of the muscles in the rectum and anus that control your bowel movements.  This test is done on patients who suffer from constipation or faecal incontinence. The test is performed by placing a small, soft tube (the size of a drinking straw) into the back passage while lying on the side.  It takes about 30 minutes to complete and the patient is awake for the test.  There is no preparation needed.



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Anoscopy

An exam of the anus and lower rectum using a short, lighted tube called an anoscope.



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Appendectomy

Removal of the appendix.



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Barium Enema  

A series of x-rays of the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract.  A liquid that contains barium (a silver-white metallic compound) is put into the rectum. The barium coats the lower gastrointestinal tract and x-rays are taken. This procedure is also called a lower GI series.  A white substance which shows up on x-rays and is used in x-ray examinations called barium meals, where it is swallowed, or barium enemas, where it is inserted into the large bowel via a tube passed into the rectum via the anus.


Barium enema procedure. The patient lies on an x-raytable. Barium liquid is put into the rectum and flows through the colon. X-rays are taken to look for abnormal areas.  Image courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.



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Barium swallow

A series of x-rays of the oesophagus and stomach.  The patient drinks a liquid that contains barium (a silver-white metallic compound).  The liquid coats the oesophagus and x-rays are taken. This procedure is also called an upper GI series.


Barium swallow.  The patient swallows barium liquid and it flows through the oesophagus and into the stomach.
X-rays are taken to look for abnormal areas. Image courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.

 

 


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Biopsy

The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer.



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Biopsy in the diagnosis of Gastrointestinal Disease

Biopsies are small samples of an organ, usually only a few millimetres in size.  They may be used for chemical analysis, for example to detect enzyme deficiencies, or used to diagnose bacterial infection using culture methods.  Mostly, biopsies are examined under the microscope by a specially trained pathologist, known as a histopathologist or an anatomical pathologist. 

Biopsies are preserved in a fixative such as formalin, and then embedded in small blocks of paraffin wax.  This allows very thin slices (about 0.005 millimetres thickness) to be cut with a microtome (a machine closely resembling a meat slicer).  The slices (or ‘sections’) are transferred onto glass slides which are then immersed in dyes (‘stains’).  Because the slices are so thin, individual cells and their relationships to each other can be visualised using a light microscope.  Preparation of the slides typically takes about one working day.  The tissue sections are routinely examined with a standard stain (haematoxylin and eosin).  Further sections may be examined with various other stains to demonstrate particular features (such as helicobacter pylori organisms, important in the development of ulcers).  Specific proteins may be demonstrated in the cells using antigen/antibody reactions, a technique termed immunohistochemistry.  This technique is useful for classification of cancer cells and for demonstrating some organisms.  

Biopsies are often taken at the time of endoscopy so that the gastroenterologist can more accurately determine the type of disease that is present.  A fine cutting instrument is present at the end of the endoscope, allowing the gastroenterologist to sample areas of disease. Biopsies taken in the course of endoscopy are only useful if the disease involves the inner lining (mucosa) of the organ, as it is only this lining that is accessible to the biopsy instrument.  Also, for a biopsy to be useful, the disease must have manifestations evident by microscopy.  Examples of diseases that affect the bowel but cannot be diagnosed by mucosal biopsy are non-ulcer dyspepsia and diabetes.  If deeper samples are required, other ways of obtaining them must be used.  These include needle biopsies, usually performed by radiologists using –x-ray or ultrasound techniques to guide them.  Otherwise tissue for diagnosis may be obtained by surgeons at the time of laparoscopy or open surgery. 

Occasionally diagnosis may not be possible without the examination of a large sample or even a whole organ.  After opening the abdomen, before embarking on a major surgical procedure, a surgeon may send a biopsy sample to the pathology laboratory for ‘frozen section’ examination.  This allows a fast diagnosis, the procedure taking about 15 minutes, but the quality and detail is usually inferior to that obtained by conventional biopsy preparation.  

Whilst biopsies often provide key information, particularly in the diagnosis of cancer, their proper interpretation requires correlation with all the other information gained in the course of investigating a patient's illness - assessment of a patient's symptoms, results of physical examination, findings at endoscopy, and radiological imaging.

Biopsies of the oesophagus or stomach may show –

  • inflow of inflammatory cells and damage of normal cells, indicating inflammatory processes such as reflux oesophagi tis and peptic ulcer disease;
     
  • infective organisms such as helicobacter pylori
     
  • cancer;
     
  • cellular changes suggesting increased likelihood of cancer development.


Biopsies of the small intestine may show –

  • inflammation indicative of diseases such as coeliac disease or Crohn's disease;
     
  • infective organisms such as Giardia;
     
  • cancer.


Biopsies of the large intestine may show –

  • inflammation, indicative of infective disease, or disease of uncertain cause such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis;
     
  • polyps - some of these are of no significance, whilst others will show changes suggesting potential for cancer development (adenomas);
     
  • cancer arising in the bowel;
     
  • cancer that has spread from another organ to the bowel.

 


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Blood chemistry studies

A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body.  An unusual (higher or lower than normal) amount of a substance can be a sign of disease in the organ or tissue that produces it.

 


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Blood tests

Your doctor checks for carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and other substances in the blood.  Some people who have bowel cancer or other conditions have a high CEA level.



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Bowel resection and anastomosis

Removal of the bowel tumour and a small section of healthy bowel on each side.  The healthy parts of the bowel are then sewn together (anastomosis).  Lymph nodes are removed and checked by a pathologist to see if they contain cancer.

 


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CA 19-9 assay

A test that measures the level of CA 19-9 in the blood.  CA 19-9 is released into the bloodstream from both cancer cells and normal cells.  When found in higher than normal amounts, it can be a sign of gallbladder cancer or other conditions.

 


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Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) assay

A test that measures the level of CEA in the blood. CEA is released into the bloodstream from both cancer cells and normal cells.  When found in higher than normal amounts, it can be a sign of gallbladder cancer or other conditions.

 


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Chemotherapy in Gastrointestinal Malignancy

Chemotherapy for gastrointestinal cancer has become increasingly important in recent years. It has value in the treatment of gastrointestinal cancer at essentially all sites including oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon/rectum and pancreas.

Chemotherapy involves the administration of one or more drugs to patients with gastrointestinal cancer in an effort to either cure the cancer or maintain control and relief of symptoms.  Chemotherapy is generally considered in conjunction with either surgery or radiotherapy as part of a combined treatment programme to provide for the best potential results for patients with these cancers.

Chemotherapy administered with curative intent will occur in circumstances where the patient has had initial surgery and/or radiotherapy and all evidence of obvious cancer has gone but significant risk of recurrence remains.  Chemotherapy will then be administered in an effort to prevent recurrence and improve long term outcome.  This is termed adjuvant chemotherapy. Such treatment is regularly considered for patients with colon and rectal cancer whose initial disease has been shown to place them at high risk of recurrence.  In certain circumstances other cancers may also be suitable for consideration for the use of adjuvant chemotherapy.  

Chemotherapy given in an effort to control disease or provide for symptom relief is generally undertaken in settings where the malignancy has already spread to other organs ie. metastatic, in which it is recognised that cure is not possible, but there is a very real potential for disease control.  Such treatment may take the form of single drugs or in appropriate circumstances, combinations of drugs administered for various lengths of time until optimum control is achieved.   

Chemotherapy may be administered either orally or intravenously, according to the nature of the drug.  More drugs are only available in the intravenous form.  Oral administration tends to be continuous ie. daily for a week or longer.  Intravenous therapy tends to be intermittent, being administered weekly or less frequently according to the appropriate schedule.  

There are nearly 50 different anticancer drugs currently available for the treatment of various cancers today.  

Drugs of particular value for the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers include 5 fluorouracil with or without folinic acid (Leucovorin) which is a common component of combination treatments for gastrointestinal cancers of virtually all sites.   Cisplatin and Carboplatin are regularly used in combination with 5 fluorouracil for the treatment of gastric and pancreatic cancers.  Irinotecan and Oxaliplatin are new drugs recently tested for the treatment of colorectal cancers.  Gemcitabine is a drug with definite activity in the treatment of pancreatic cancer and is of particular value in controlling symptoms and tumour activity of patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Adverse effects are always of concern when chemotherapy is used in the treatment of cancer, either alone or in conjunction with surgery and radiotherapy.  Modern treatments however are now able to minimise adverse effects to a very large extent.  These include the use of very effective anti-nausea medications and the use of anti-diarrhoeals and special hormones (GCSF) to minimise blood count suppression.  Most forms of chemotherapy for the treatment of gastrointestinal cancer are well tolerated by the vast majority of patients who receive them.

Medical Oncologists are consultant physicians who specialise in the management of patients with cancer.  They are fully trained in the field of Internal Medicine and have undertaken specialised training in the understanding of the biology of cancer and management approaches for the treatment of these diseases.  Medical Oncologists work in close collaboration with surgeons and radiotherapists to provide for treatment options.  Medical Oncologists are particularly expert in the administration of chemotherapy, biological and immunological therapies.  Medical Oncologists take their place alongside gastroenterologists, surgeons and radiotherapists in the evaluation, treatment and follow up of patients with all forms of gastrointestinal cancer. 

Oncology clinics are ambulatory clinics which supervise the administration of chemotherapy, biological and immunological therapies.  Highly trained Oncology nursing staff conduct these clinics under the supervision of Medical Oncologists to ensure optimum evaluation of patients and the highest standards of care in the administration of required treatments. Most patients are able to be treated in these ambulatory clinics where the atmosphere is relaxed and all effort is made to minimise fears and traumas of attending these clinics.  Times required for attendance at these clinics will vary according to the nature of the chemotherapy being administered, but generally between 2 to 4 hours in duration.  These clinics also provide opportunities for further support services including community nursing, palliative care, social work, nutritional advice, relaxation therapies and Cansupport.

 


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Chest x-ray

An x-ray of the organs and bones inside the chest.  An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.

 


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Colonoscopy

A procedure to look inside the rectum and colon for polyps, abnormal areas, or cancer.  A colonoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is inserted through the rectum into the colon.  Polyps or tissue samples may be taken for biopsy.  Polyps can be removed by a procedure known as polypectomy.  A bowel preparation is given prior to the procedure and patients are sedated.  

The patient will need to start the bowel preparation the day before the procedure.  On the day of the procedure the patient must not have anything to eat or drink for 6 hours.  The doctor should advise the patient if they need to stop taking any of their medications before the procedure.  If the patient is diabetic they will need specific instructions for taking insulin. 

After the procedure the patient will need to rest in the endoscopy unit until the sedation has worn off.  Once the patient is fully awake refreshments will be given and discharge instructions for any follow up treatment needed.  After sedation the patient is not allowed to drive for 24 hours.


Colonoscopy.  A thin, lighted tube is inserted through the anus and rectum and into the colon to look for abnormal areas.
Image courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.

 


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Complete blood count (CBC)

A procedure in which a sample of blood is drawn and checked for the following -

  • The number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
     
  • The amount of haemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) in the red blood cells.
     
  • The portion of the blood sample made up of red blood cells.

 


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Cryosurgery

A treatment that uses an instrument to freeze and destroy abnormal tissues, such as carcinoma in situ.  This type of treatment is also called cryotherapy.  The doctor may use ultrasound to guide the instrument.

 


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CT scan (CAT scan)

A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles.  The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine.  A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly.  This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerised tomography, or computerised axial tomography.  A spiral or helical CT scan makes a series of very detailed pictures of areas inside the body using an x-ray machine that scans the body in a spiral path.

 


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Digital rectal examination (DRE)

An exam of the anus and rectum.  The doctor or nurse inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the lower part of the rectum to feel for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.

 


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Distal pancreatectomy

The body and the tail of the pancreas and usually the spleen are removed.

 


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Endo-anal or endorectal ultrasound

A procedure in which an ultrasound transducer (probe) is inserted into the anus or rectum and used to bounce high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) off internal tissues or organs and make echoes.  The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram.

 


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Endoluminal laser therapy

A procedure in which an endoscope (a thin, lighted tube) with a laser attached is inserted into the body. A laser is an intense beam of light that can be used as a knife.

 


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Endoluminal stent placement

A procedure to insert a stent (a thin, expandable tube) in order to keep a passage (such as arteries or the oesophagus) open.  

 


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Endoscopic stent placement

If the tumour is blocking the bile duct, surgery may be done to put in a stent (a thin, flexible tube) to drain bile that has built up in the area.  The stent may be placed through a catheter that drains to the outside of the body or the stent may go around the blocked area and drain the bile into the small intestine.

 


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Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)

A procedure in which an endoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is inserted into the body. The endoscope is used to bounce high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram. This procedure is also called endosonography.

 


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ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography)

An investigation in which an endoscope is passed down via the mouth into the duodenum and then a fine tube is passed through the endoscope and into the tiny opening of the common bile duct into the duodenum.  A special liquid known as dye or contrast is then injected with a syringe down through the fine pipe into the bile duct.  The dye is radio opaque which means that it shows up clearly on x-rays that are taken at the time of the procedure.  This enables the doctor doing the test to see the size of the bile duct and whether it contains things such as common bile duct stones.

 


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Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)

A test to check stool (solid waste) for blood that can only be seen with a microscope.  Small samples of stool are placed on special cards and returned to the doctor or laboratory for testing.


Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) kit to check for blood in stool.  Image courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.

 


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Fulguration

Use of an electric current to burn away the tumour using a special tool.

 


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Gastric bypass

If a tumour is blocking the flow of food from the stomach, the stomach may be sewn directly to the small intestine so the patient can continue to eat normally.

 


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Hepatic artery ligation or embolisation

A procedure to ligate (tie off) or embolise (block) the hepatic artery, the main blood vessel that brings blood into the liver.  Blocking the flow of blood to the liver helps kill cancer cells growing there.

 


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Hepatic resection

Surgery to remove part or all of the liver.

 


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Laparoscopy

A surgical procedure to look at the organs inside the abdomen to check for signs of disease.  Small incisions (cuts) are made in the wall of the abdomen and a laparoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is inserted into one of the incisions.  Other instruments may be inserted through the same or other incisions to perform procedures such as removing organs or taking tissue samples for biopsy.

 


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Laparotomy

A surgical procedure in which an incision (cut) is made in the wall of the abdomen to check the inside of the abdomen for signs of disease. The size of the incision depends on the reason the laparotomy is being done.  Sometimes organs are removed or tissue samples are taken for biopsy.

 


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Liver function test

A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by the liver. A higher than normal amount of a substance can be a sign of liver disease that may be caused by gallbladder cancer or extrahepatic bile duct cancer.

 


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Lymph node biopsy

The removal of all or part of a lymph node.  A pathologist views the tissue under a microscope to look for cancer cells.

 


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MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body.  This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).  

 


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Oesophagoscopy

A procedure to look inside the oesophagus to check for abnormal areas.  An oesophagoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is inserted through the mouth or nose and down the throat into the oesophagus.  Tissue samples may be taken for biopsy.


Esophagoscopy.  A thin, lighted tube is inserted through the mouth and into the oesophagus to look for abnormal areas.
Image courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.

 


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Oesophageal Manometry

Oesophageal manometry is a test where a fine tube is placed through the nose or mouth into the swallowing tube (the oesophagus). This test looks at the pattern and strength of contractions (the squeezing) of the oesophagus.  This test may be done in patients who have difficulty swallowing, or a feeling that the food gets stuck on the way down after eating.  It may also be done in some patients with chest pain, and in some patients with acid reflux (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease).  The test lasts about 30 minutes and is done while the patient is awake.  The only preparation is to fast for 6 hours prior to the procedure.  In some circumstances patients may need to stop certain medications for some time period before the test.

 


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Partial hepatectomy

Removal of the part of the liver where cancer is found.  The part removed may be a wedge of tissue, an entire lobe, or a larger portion of the liver, along with some of the healthy tissue around it. The remaining liver tissue takes over the functions of the liver.

 


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Percutaneous transhepatic biliary drainage

A procedure done to drain bile when there is a blockage and endoscopic stent placement is not possible.  An x-ray of the liver and bile ducts is done to locate the blockage.  Images made by ultrasound are used to guide placement of a stent, which is left in the liver to drain bile into the small intestine or a collection bag outside the body.  This procedure may be done to relieve jaundice before surgery.

 


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Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC)

A procedure used to x-ray the liver and bile ducts.  A thin needle is inserted through the skin below the ribs and into the liver.  Dye is injected into the liver or bile ducts and an x-ray is taken.  If a blockage is found, a thin, flexible tube called a stent is sometimes left in the liver to drain bile into the small intestine or a collection bag outside the body.  This test is done only if ERCP cannot be done.

 


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PET scan (positron emission tomography scan)

A procedure to find malignant tumour cells in the body.  A small amount of radionuclide glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein.  The PET scanner rotates around the body and makes a picture of where glucose is being used in the body.  Malignant tumour cells show up brighter in the picture because they are more active and take up more glucose than normal cells.

 


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Physical exam and history

An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual.  A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.

 


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Proctoscopy

An exam of the rectum using a short, lighted tube called a proctoscope.

 


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Radiofrequency ablation

The use of a special probe with tiny electrodes that release high-energy radio waves (similar to microwaves) that kill cancer cells. The probe may be inserted through the skin or through an incision (cut) in the abdomen.

 


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Removal of the bile duct

If the tumour is small and only in the bile duct, the entire bile duct may be removed.  A new duct is made by connecting the duct openings in the liver to the intestine.  Lymph nodes are removed and viewed under a microscope to see if they contain cancer.

 


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Resection

Surgery to remove part or all of the organ that contains cancer. Resection of the tumour and a small amount of normal tissue around it is called a local excision.

 


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Serum tumour marker test

A procedure in which a sample of blood is examined to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs, tissues, or tumour cells in the body.  Certain substances are linked to specific types of cancer when found in increased levels in the blood. These are called tumour markers.  An increased level of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) in the blood may be a sign of liver cancer.  Other cancers and certain non-cancerous conditions, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, may also increase AFP levels.

 


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Sigmoidoscopy

A procedure to look inside the rectum and sigmoid (lower) colon for polyps, abnormal areas, or cancer. A sigmoidoscope is inserted through the rectum into the sigmoid colon.  A sigmoidoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing.  It may also have a tool to remove polyps or tissue samples, which are checked under a microscope for signs of cancer.


Sigmoidoscopy. A thin, lighted tube is inserted through the anus and rectum and into the lower part of the colon to look for abnormal areas. 
Image courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.

 


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Subtotal gastrectomy

Removal of the part of the stomach that contains cancer, nearby lymph nodes, and parts of other tissues and organs near the tumour. The spleen may be removed.  The spleen is an organ in the upper abdomen that filters the blood and removes old blood cells.

 


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Surgical biliary bypass

If cancer is blocking the small intestine and bile is building up in the gallbladder, a biliary bypass may be done.  During this operation, the doctor will cut the gallbladder or bile duct and sew it to the small intestine to create a new pathway around the blocked area.

 


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Total gastrectomy

Removal of the entire stomach, nearby lymph nodes, and parts of the oesophagus, small intestine, and other tissues near the tumour. The spleen may be removed.  The oesophagus is connected to the small intestine so the patient can continue to eat and swallow.

 


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Total hepatectomy and liver transplant

Removal of the entire liver and replacement with a healthy donated liver. A liver transplant may be done when the disease is in the liver only and a donated liver can be found.  If the patient has to wait for a donated liver, other treatment is given as needed.

 


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Total pancreatectomy

This operation removes the whole pancreas, part of the stomach, part of the small intestine, the common bile duct, the gallbladder, the spleen, and nearby lymph nodes.

 


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Twenty-four-hour urine test

A test in which a urine sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances, such as hormones.  An unusual (higher or lower than normal) amount of a substance can be a sign of disease in the organ or tissue that produces it.  The urine sample is checked to see if it contains a hormone produced by carcinoid tumours.  This test is used to help diagnose carcinoid syndrome.

 


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Ultrasound exam

A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes.  The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram.  The picture can be printed to be looked at later.

 


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Upper endoscopy

(Also known as a gastroscopy) is a procedure to look at the inside of the oesophagus, stomach, and duodenum (first part of the small intestine, near the stomach).  An endoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is inserted through the mouth and into the oesophagus, stomach, and duodenum.  Tissue samples may be taken for biopsy.

Upper endoscopy is usually done on patients that have symptoms of persistent upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, difficult swallowing or bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract.  Prior to the procedure the patient must not have had anything to eat or drink for 6 hours.  The stomach must be completely empty for the doctor to be able to examine it properly.  The patient will need to discuss with their doctor if they need to stop taking any of their medications before the procedure.

After the procedure the patient will need to rest in the endoscopy unit until the sedation has worn off.  Once the patient is fully awake refreshments will be given and discharge instructions for any follow up treatment needed.  After having sedation the patient is not allowed to drive for 24 hours.


Esophagoscopy.  A thin, lighted tube is inserted through the mouth and into the oesophagus to look for abnormal areas.
Image courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.

 


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Upper GI series with small bowel follow-through

A series of x-rays of the oesophagus, stomach, and small bowel. The patient drinks a liquid that contains barium (a silver-white metallic compound).  The liquid coats the oesophagus, stomach, and small bowel.  X-rays are taken at different times as the barium travels through the upper GI tract and small bowel.

 


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Virtual colonoscopy

A procedure that uses a series of x-rays called computed tomography to make a series of pictures of the colon. A computer puts the pictures together to create detailed images that may show polyps and anything else that seems unusual on the inside surface of the colon. This test is also called colonography or CT colonography.

 


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Whipple procedure

A surgical procedure in which the head of the pancreas, the gallbladder, part of the stomach, part of the small intestine, and the bile duct are removed. Enough of the pancreas is left to produce digestive juices and insulin.

 

 

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Sandy's story (38, NSW)

1

Was it not for me having a totally random check-up back in 1999, I would not be alive today.  Still to this day I’m not quite sure what got me to go and have a check up as I was fit and healthy, but what happened next still amazes me. My Gastroenterologist calls me the “luckiest girl in the world” as having that check up saved my life.  Being told at 28 years old that had I not come in for a check-up I would have only had a couple of years to live was a huge wake up call for me.   So to me...

Eileen's story (50, NSW)

1

Even though there is a history of bowel cancer in the family, I never thought it would happen to me. My diet had been considerably healthy throughout my life and I had previously used a Rotary Bowelscan kit, which had come back clear. This all changed in July 2007 when I was diagnosed with Dukes stage 3 bowel cancer....

Howard's story (52, QLD)

1

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in February 2010 at the age of 51.  I was seeing a specialist at Toowoomba Hospital about my renal condition.  He asked if there were any other health problems; I mentioned the blood in my stool, which I had seen off and on for the last six years.  I didn’t think it that important, as I had had ulcerative colitis over the years.  My GP did not think it was a concern.  Also I had recently done a FOBT test as part of the National Bowel Cancer Screening...

Robert's story (61, NSW)

1

When I was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer I was 61 years old, fit and healthy (at least I thought I was).  I was working in the entertainment industry with a part time job as a spruiker (sales motivator) and also did freelance work in the entertainment industry as a DJ/MC for various events. Approximately 6 years ago, during a prostate check at the local GP, my doctor found a mass on my appendix, protruding into my bowel, fortunately this was benign, however I still required a resection to the right side of my large bowel...

Amanda's story (37,WA)

1

My mum was in her mid to late 40s when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer. She died at the age of 50, when I was 27, 11 years ago this year. Mum had experienced symptoms for some time, starting with bowel upsets, stomach pain and changes in her bowel habits. The doctors suggested it was gastro, then Irritable Bowel Syndrome - you name it, they suggested it. When I look back it felt as though they were fobbing her off. They never suggested looking into what was causing the problems....

Karen's story (45, NSW)

1

In summary, over the last two years I have had three operations, two colonoscopies, six weeks of chemoadiation, four months of chemotherapy, an ileostomy, a hernia on my bowel surgery scar, gone through instant menopause and had to give up work. However, since going through bowel cancer, all my tests have been clear and my last CT is in September 2013, which will be two years since the operation....

Anis' story (72, NSW)

1

This story is about my father who was diagnosed with bowel cancer three days before Christmas in 2010 and passed away just five weeks later.   Dad was a young 72-year-old – he was healthy and active, ate well, enjoyed long walks, wouldn’t hesitate to climb up on the roof if necessary, and had never even been to hospital – so his diagnosis was a shock. He had lost his appetite and begun to lose weight about a month before his diagnosis but his doctor didn’t think it was a problem; in fact, he th...

Milly's story (30, VIC)

1

I believe it is important for all of us to fight to be healthy. After experiencing years of diarrhoea and stomach pain, Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer at age 55. After a urinary infection that persisted, Mum’s doctor suggested an ultrasound where ‘masses’ were discovered on her bowels. She was then referred for an abdomen scan....

Richard's story (63, NSW)

1

I successfully beat prostate cancer in 2007 so being diagnosed with bowel cancer so soon after came as a real shock. I did the Rotary bowel cancer test (FOBT) in March 2009 and the results were negative. But later that year, my bowel habits began to change – mainly increased urgency and frequency – and when I twice noticed blood in my stools I decided to take the FOBT again. This time the results were positive.   I was overseas when the results came through in April 2010 so I talked to my GP in Australia...

Gayle's story (53, QLD)

1

In 2000 I was diagnosed with pneumonia. While I was in hospital the specialist did a cancer marker test which came back really high. However the subsequent colonoscopy was not very clear as the prep had not been very effective. In September 2011 I underwent a second colonoscopy as I was experiencing continual bad diarrhoea. During the procedure a carcinoid tumour was discovered....

Jane's story (41, QLD)

1

In early November 2010 I noticed some weight loss and a change in my bowel habits, including rectal bleeding. I went to the doctor in mid-November and was diagnosed with anaemia and booked in for a colonoscopy later that month. I was told on the day of the colonoscopy that I had bowel cancer. The next step was surgery, a high anterior resection, which was done in mid-December. It all happened so quickly that I didn’t really have time to dwell on what was going on, but it never occurred to me before my diagnosis tha...

Carolina's story (33, NSW)

1

I was six months pregnant with my first baby when I started experiencing blood in my stool. I talked to my obstetrician, who said that a little bleeding can often happen during pregnancy but that the amount I was experiencing sounded a little suspicious. She referred me to a gastroenterologist and I decided to wait until after my baby was born to book the appointment....

Eve's story (51, VIC)

1

I have been a vegetarian for over 30 years, have never smoked and have drank very little alcohol – so to get bowel cancer has been such a rude awakening. I feel I no longer have the security of my health and I worry that the cancer could come back at any time… I first started feeling something was wrong in January 2008. I suffer from many auto immune problems, including Sjogren’s syndrome which causes irritable bowel type symptoms (this threw my GP off the scent and complicated the situation even more)....

Paula's story (54, WA)

1

I was diagnosed in 2008 when I was 54. I had been complaining to doctors for years about various symptoms but I was never sent for tests – not even a bowel screen – until I started bleeding from the rectum. I’ve been an athlete for more than 26 years, competing in marathons, triathlons, even an IronMan event. When you run a lot, diarrhoea is quite common, so everyone – including doctors – kept telling me that my various symptoms were the result of an intense training schedule. I knew things wer...

Carolyn's story (45, VIC)

1

When I was diagnosed with stage III bowel cancer in 2006, I was 45 years old. I am a wife and a mother of three (now 23, 20 & 16 years old) and an office manager.  I had no family history of bowel cancer and I led a healthy lifestyle before my diagnosis, although I was told further along the process that I carry the HNPCC gene, which is a strong indicator of the disease. ...

Stacey B's story (29, WA)

1

I went to my GP in early 2009 complaining of tiredness and lethargy, rectal bleeding and a change in my bowel habits.  But because of my age and the fact that I had recently given birth, I was given only a blood test and told that further investigation wouldn’t be necessary.  The blood test showed low iron levels so my tiredness was put down to that....

Stacey B's story (36, WA)

1

My husband Peter was diagnosed with bowel cancer in June 2012 at age 36. He was referred for a colonoscopy by our GP as he had been experiencing rectal bleeding and a consistent change to his bowel habits. The colonoscopy results found a tumour which was biopsied and confirmed to be cancerous. Peter was then sent for a CT scan and MRI to confirm locations and check for the possibilities of metastasis....

David G's story (51, NSW)

1

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer (first stage) at the age of 51 as a result of a routine check-up with my GP. Previously I had no symptoms or warning signs of the cancer. During a check-up with my GP I asked about the Government Screening Kit which I had received but ignored. My GP handed me another kit and recommended I do it. I undertook the stool test which came back positive. My GP recommended I have a colonoscopy as soon as possible - it was booked and undertaken two weeks later. Three weeks later I went in for s...

Stacey's story (35, SA)

1

My symptoms were fairly vague.  In January 2010 I had one incident of a very upset tummy, I had had slight rectal bleeding for about 8 months but put it down to having haemorrhoids from having had a baby in the past year, and my bowel movements had been more regular. I was actually at the GP in January 2010 about getting my moles checked for cancer when right at the end I mentioned the above symptoms.  My GP who I now thank for my life, said that at my age I should have nothing and immediately referred me to a gas...

Brian's story (53, VIC)

1

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2011 after experiencing changes to my bowel habits over approximately 2 months, which was followed by abdominal pain.  This led me to my GP who thought the stomach upsets were nothing serious so prescribed a reflux medication and sent me on my way.    I soon returned to my GP after experiencing rectal bleeding, when he then referred me for a faecal occult blood test immediately. ...

Felicity's story (38, VIC)

1

In August 2010 my life changed forever.  Nothing can prepare you for a bowel cancer diagnosis at just 38 years old.   I had been given what I thought was a routine colonoscopy to investigate the cause of my iron deficiency, which my doctor thought was probably due to an ulcer. But as I lay in bed in the recovery room after being told they had found a tumour, I remember thinking: ‘I’m too young.  I have a husband and two young boys.  This can’t be happening to me’.  ...

Adam's story (25, NSW)

1

I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer two years ago at the age of 23.  I had been experiencing a range of symptoms for about five years, including rectal bleeding, mucous in my stools, diarrhoea, stomach pain and cramps to changes in my bowel habits.    Coincidentally, my mother was also having these problems, so we were both seeing a doctor to try to discover their cause....

Steve's story (66, NSW)

1

Three weeks prior to my diagnosis I had been sent a National Bowel Screen Kit. I looked at it and thought, “I should really do that one day”. Needless to say, I left the kit on the bench and three weeks later ended up seeing my GP on a Wednesday afternoon for a prescription. At the time I complained of having had a slight pain in my abdomen. The GP asked to examine my abdomen and it was then he felt a mass....

Hollie's story (24, WA)

1

Despite experiencing horrible stomach pains and bloating and visiting a few different GPs about my symptoms, I was told I had IBS and female problems. My mother has Crohns so I finally found a GP who would send me for a colonoscopy to test me for this. After being on the waiting list for a while I finally had a colonoscopy in April 2011; however, it had to be abandoned due to the extreme pain I suffered during the procedure. I was scheduled to have another colonoscopy as they had found a polyp during the first procedure. Th...

Gillian's story (62, VIC)

1

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 58 years old. I’d had dull stomach pain and occasional bleeding for several months but it wasn’t until I saw a lot of blood in the toilet that I booked an appointment with my GP.  He sent me for a colonoscopy and I was referred to a surgeon within a week. I was very shocked when I was told I had cancer, but I tried to remain positive throughout my treatment and I really think that helped me cope....

Antonia's story (62, QLD)

1

I had not been feeling well for a couple of months, tired, lost weight, feeling sick, and then I had 2 episodes of rectal bleeding, the second worse than the first. I went to my GP, after having done some research. I wanted a referral for a colonoscopy. My GP was initially hesitant to refer me on as he thought it was possibly only haemorrhoids, I knew this wasn’t correct. I had blood tests and I was referred to a general surgeon for a colonoscopy. A week after the colonoscopy, the specialist looking after me told...

Ron's story (60, VIC)

1

I’d had rectal bleeding and unusual bowel habits for six to eight weeks before going to see my GP in 2008. I was 60 at the time. My GP gave me an internal examination but found nothing. Nonetheless, he was insistent that I see a specialist and made the call while I sat in his surgery, getting me an appointment for the very next day.  I had a colonoscopy within the week and was diagnosed with stage III bowel cancer.  I had a CT scan the next day, then an ultrasound for tumour staging....

Christine's story (54, QLD)

1

Kim was diagnosed with bowel cancer in June 2012 and passed away on 8th May 2013. We are just coming up to 6 months since his passing and I am here to share his dreadful journey. Kim was being treated for constipation, no bleeding or anything to let us know there was a problem. After 10 days he started vomiting and I took him to the hospital in Brisbane. He spent a week in hospital to clear his bowel, then a big op to remove a large cancer in his bowel that had burst through the bowel wall. He had chemo 24/7 but still h...

Margaret's story (50, VIC)

1

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2007 at the age of 50. I had been noticing changes in my bowel habits for some time but it wasn’t until my abdomen was severely distended and I lost the use of my bowels that I was admitted to hospital. I was on holiday in Port Douglas at the time, so I was taken to Mossman Hospital....

Brent C's story (64, NSW)

1

Prior to her diagnosis in 2006, my wife’s concerns about her health were dismissed as a trivial condition because her only symptoms were occasional and very slight rectal bleeding. Each time she raised her concerns with her GP, the GP thought the bleeding was related to other things such as beetroot (we ate a lot of vegetables) or haemorrhoids. However after insisting, her GP finally ordered a colonoscopy which showed my wife had late stage bowel cancer, with metastases in the liver and lungs (stage 4)....

Alan's story (48, WA)

1

I got my Rotary bowel test kit from a chemist in 2009. The staff was giving them away so I thought I might as well do one. Two weeks later, the results of the test were sent to my GP and they were positive. I was on holiday in New Zealand when I received an email from the surgery asking me to contact my doctor as soon as possible. When I got back, I went straight to my doctor and was told I had bowel cancer....

Ella's story (35, ACT)

1

At the age of 35 I started experiencing rectal bleeding so my GP recommended I have a colonoscopy. The colonoscopy confirmed three growths located within my bowel. After seeing my GP it all happened within weeks, it all seemed so fast yet very professional. After being diagnosed I was required to undergo radiation and chemotherapy. Two weeks before Christmas I commenced my radiation cycle which included trips to radiology every day for 6 weeks and chemotherapy in a tablet form, which included 3 pills, twice a day....

Rachel's story (40, QLD)

1

I had noticed some blood in the toilet for about a month but thought it was due to constipation. I was working fulltime and have four children to look after – being so busy I just carried on and didn't dwell on it. One morning, however, I thought I had diarrhoea but all I could see was a lot of old blood in the toilet bowl. I left my husband with the kids at home and took myself straight off to hospital.Staff at the hospital found evidence of bleeding with no obvious cause. The doctor said he would write a referral...

Lorna's story (56, NSW)

1

As a registered nurse for over 30 years, I understand the value of good health and pride myself in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I see my GP every year for routine blood tests and always attend for routine mammogram when requested. However, when the bowel screening test arrived, I put it in a cupboard until I had time....

Helen's story (44, QLD)

1

My experience with bowel cancer began with a niggly pain, not unlike wind pain, that lasted for about 10 days. I had always suffered with endometriosis so I put the pain down to that. Thankfully my husband encouraged me to go and get checked out. When the doctor examined my tummy it was very painful. The doctor diagnosed me as having a burst appendix and before I knew it, I was flown out from our small town to the nearest teaching hospital. I spent three days there on intravenous antibiotics to reduce what they thought...

Eve's story (22, SA)

1

In 2005 when I was 14, my father was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer.  Dad was just 38 at the time and given a low chance of surviving five years.  That was eight years ago and he is still with us, happy and healthy today.   Finding out dad had bowel cancer was a complete shock.  Following his diagnosis, he underwent surgery and half of his large intestine was removed.  He then was prescribed Xeloda as chemotherapy and, like most cancer patients, experienced a lot of difficulty with the treatme...

Cris' story (34, QLD)

1

I was only two years old when I lost my grandmother to bowel cancer. My Grandmother and my Auntie, were both diagnosed at ages 60 and 40 years respectively. By the time my grandmother was diagnosed, the cancer was terminal. My Auntie was checked out for bowel cancer due to the high family history of the disease. I was here in Australia when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer in Brazil. She had the chance to fight it but could not stand the pain caused by the radiotherapy treatments. I was fortunate enough to be able to vis...

Ann's story (37, ACT)

1

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of 37, totally unexpected at such a young age. The only real experience I’d had with the disease was watching my grandfather live with a colostomy bag after the removal of his bowel when I was a child. But I no longer consider this an ‘old man’s disease’....

Sandra's story (49, SA)

1

In 2008 I had lap band surgery to help reverse obesity. Since having the surgery, I have had routine blood tests every six months. Prior to one check-up appointment, I noticed a speck of blood in the toilet so during my consultation with my GP (and after she had written a referral for my bariatric specialist) I told her about the blood in the toilet. Straightaway she added this piece of information to the referral just to be sure....

Peter F's story (41, NSW)

1

Buying a $40 FOBT kit is so much cheaper when compared to your life. I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of 40 after finally getting around to using an FOBT kit. I had purchased the kit in June 2012 and it sat in my cupboard until I finally used it in early September. The results came back positive....

Monica's story (85, QLD)

1

My bowel cancer diagnosis was a huge shock. I had been experiencing frequent constipation, a general change in bowel habits and some rectal bleeding, all of which my GP felt needed further investigation. I was referred for a colonoscopy and endoscopy in order to pinpoint the source of the problem....

Rick's story (63, NSW)

1

I was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer in September 2011 after seeing my GP about a very small amount of blood being present on my toilet paper. ** The GP asked me to get a home testing kit from the chemist, conduct the test and return it to him. The test showed it was a positive result so I was referred to another doctor to conduct a colonoscopy. The colonoscopy took place on September 26 and the results showed two tumours in my large bowel. I was booked in for a CT scan the next day. After the scan my doctor told...

Helen's story (65, NSW)

1

Unlike many people, I had a lot of symptoms before I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.     I saw my doctor many times about the ongoing pains in my stomach, back and bottom and the mucous in my bowel motions but was told I was probably suffering emotional strain or irritable bowel syndrome.     I was given blood tests but they never revealed anything significant.  It felt like doctors gave me the run-around for nearly a year until I finally found one who took me seriously. ...

Kym's story (33, VIC)

1

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2010 at the age of 31. My bowel habits had started to change about two years before, including small amounts of blood on the toilet paper, but I had been told earlier that I had a haemorrhoid so I thought that might explain the bleeding. I was also diagnosed with anaemia just before I fell pregnant about a year after; I would later learn that anaemia can be an indicator of bowel cancer. It wasn’t until two months after giving birth that I went to see my GP about the bleeding,...

Seher's story (30, NSW)

1

My family was shocked by the news in April 2011 when first told my Dad had bowel cancer. It was difficult to process as my Dad is such a healthy man. Initially my Dad went to his GP to have a check up on his prostate. It was after his assessment that the GP was concerned Dad’s bowel may require further investigation. After discussing his health with his doctor it was apparent Dad had experienced a change in his bowel habits, was anaemic and had noticed gradual weight loss....

Alison's story (46, QLD)

1

This story is about my mum’s ordeal with bowel cancer. She was diagnosed in 2005 at the age of 73, but her diagnosis had taken some time.  Her rectal bleeding was initially thought to be haemorrhoids, and the GP gave her a cream to treat the condition, but the bleeding persisted and, when she finally had a colonoscopy two months later, they found advanced bowel cancer....

Bobby's story (57, NSW)

1

My message to anyone out there reading this would be to stay positive and keep moving forward. Despite what I’ve been through I feel better now than I have in a long time. Prior to my diagnosis, I hadn’t been feeling well for some time. A driving holiday to Melbourne prompted me to see a doctor. I was fine sitting down but as soon as I stood up I had to rush to a toilet. Back in Sydney my GP sent me off for blood tests and a CT scan. The results showed my tumour markers were up so things were not looking good. A...

Trevor's story (40, QLD)

1

Life was quite normal, albeit very busy with a young family and a very time consuming career.  Things changed for me one night when I experienced severe stomach pains after eating a chicken sandwich and immediately self-diagnosed myself with "food poisoning."  The next morning I was severely sick and started to vomit. At this stage I thought I was getting better as I had got it all out of my system....

Kylie's story (36, QLD)

1

I had been seeing bright red blood in my stools for between four and six weeks before I saw a doctor.   Because a similar thing had happened after my children (now four and six years old) were born, the experience wasn’t totally unfamiliar to me.  I felt otherwise OK and my energy levels were normal. Nothing felt unusual or different. I had a sigmoidoscopy on my doctor’s orders on 19 April 2010 and they found a growth which they biopsied....

Kersti's story (56, NSW)

1

My story with bowel cancer began in February 2009 but if I’m honest, it began much earlier with symptoms of rectal bleeding and constipation which I didn’t follow up on with my GP. After my mum died, I went through a stage of not looking after myself; just lying on the lounge, eating way too much pizza and drinking excessively. I kept putting my symptoms down to haemorrhoids, bad diet and grief. My constipation was so bad I was twice forced to go to hospital. Scans were done but nothing showed up. On my third vis...

Jo's story (45, NSW)

1

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 44 years old.   I went to see my GP after about twelve months of changed bowel habits and intermittent rectal bleeding, which I assumed was caused by haemorrhoids.  The pain I had been experiencing on and off had become quite bad, so I wanted to talk to my GP about other treatment options.  I was given a colonoscopy as part of this visit – and that’s when they discovered the tumour in my rectum....

Renay's story (41, VIC)

1

I used to think cancer was the worst thing that had ever happened to me until it became the best thing. This might sound crazy but it is true. I am a wife and mother to a now 6 year old son. I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2011 at the age of 41. I had been suffering from exhaustion, stomach pain and unusual bowel habits for three or four months and finally saw my GP when the pain started getting much worse....

Barbara's story (60, NSW)

1

I had a bowel cancer test in November 2006 which came back all clear, therefore when symptoms started occurring in February 2007 I ignored them, at the age of 57, blamed my new job, the change of lunch hours etc. Initially the symptoms were changes in my bowel habits, rectal bleeding with froth and bubbles. Eventually the symptoms started to get serious, with some stomach pain, a heaviness in the back passage and generally feeling uncomfortable. In September 2007 I couldn’t ignore any of this any longer....

Carol's story (63, QLD)

1

The main symptom that led to my diagnosis of bowel cancer was a change in my bowel habits, which I discussed with my GP. I was referred to a gynaecologist who diagnosed a uterine prolapse, which affects the working of the bowel, and was sent to a physiotherapist who put together an exercise program for me to help with the problem. When I went back to the gynaecologist after 12 months as requested, I was still having bowel problems so he recommended a colonoscopy....

Janice's story (29, NSW)

1

 My father was a fit and healthy man. He ate well, never smoked, almost never drank to excess and played a lot of sports. As a result of old work and football injuries, he suffered from chronic knee and back pain for many years. He also suffered frequent digestive upsets, which he rationalised to be a side-effect of the anti-inflammatory medication he needed to take for his pain....

David B's story (65, NSW)

1

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 1993 at the age of 47.  I had taken a Rotary Bowelscan test (FOBT) and, when it returned a positive result in May, my GP referred me to a specialist.  I was given a colonoscopy in June and told I had a 10 per cent chance of having cancer… turns out, I was in that unlucky 10 per cent!  In July I had a bowel resection.  Looking back, it all happened so quickly.   I felt I coped really well with the cancer at the time but I experienced more problems about se...

Moya's story (69, NSW)

1

In 2007, the government sent out free bowel cancer test kits to a range of people and I did my test as soon as I received it. The results indicated blood in my samples and I was told to see my GP immediately. I wasn't overly worried at this stage because I had seen blood in my stools on and off for some time and had always put this down to taking iron tablets, which can cause dietary problems like constipation.   After my GP appointment, things started to move very quickly, with a colonoscopy, blood tests, i...

Stephanie's story (21, QLD)

1

I woke from what was supposed to be a routine, last resort colonoscopy and was advised that my undertaking of this small procedure had saved my life. I was diagnosed with bowel cancer last year in October 2012 at the age of 21....

John S' story (65, NSW)

1

I was diagnosed with stage one bowel cancer at the age of 62. Everything seemed to happen so quickly. I took part in the Rotary Bowelscan program in April and in early June received notification that my test results were positive. I saw my GP on 6 June and she booked a colonoscopy for 7 July. Just four days later I was having an x-ray and CT scan, which revealed a 4cm tumour on my sigmoid colon. By the end of July I had seen a surgeon, who recommended an operation to remove the tumour and outlined my treatment options....

Geoffrey's story (70, NSW)

1

Six years ago at 64, I began to notice blood in my stool and reported it straight away to my GP, who referred me to a colorectal surgeon.  A colonoscopy revealed cancer and an operation was recommended as my best option. I’d estimate that from the moment I noticed the blood to finally being operated on took no more than six weeks, which isn’t very long to come to terms with the fact of bowel cancer.  I was given an ileostomy during surgery, which also took some getting used to....

Hazel's story (58, SA)

1

If you have any irregularities in your bowel movements, don’t ignore it. See your GP straight away and don’t be embarrassed! The whole experience of being diagnosed with bowel cancer has been emotionally devastating for me. In February 2010, I noticed blood in my faeces and made an appointment to see my GP. I’d had bleeding from haemorrhoids before but this was different. I had also been experiencing an urgency to open my bowels for a few years which I had put down to my history of haemorrhoids....

John's story (40, QLD)

1

I started experiencing a change in my bowel habits, stomach pains and rectal bleeding in February 2010 so I saw my GP and was sent for blood tests to investigate the cause of the problems. The results came back normal. However, a month later when the bleeding persisted I was referred for a colonoscopy in mid April. The colonoscopy revealed a 4cm tumour on my sigmoid colon....

Maureen's story (55, QLD)

1

When Maureen received a screening kit in the mail just after her 55th birthday, she had no reservations about doing the test. “It was just too simple not to do. The test was hygienic, quick to complete and extremely straight-forward,” she said. Just as well, because ultimately this unusual birthday present saved her life.  When the test returned a positive result, Maureen was not overly concerned as she had read in the accompanying booklet that the presence of blood may be due to conditions other than ca...

Lisa's story (41, NSW)

1

I had rectal bleeding and abdomen pain for a year and a half before finally going back to my GP to tell her I thought the diagnosis of piles was wrong! At one point, there was so much blood and mucous that I thought I had haemorrhaged. My GP finally referred me to another doctor who gave me a colonoscopy in January 2008, where he discovered a tumour and a number of polyps, which were removed....

Kathy's story (47, WA)

1

During a routine pap smear in August 2011, I mentioned to my doctor that I’d had an uncle who died from bowel cancer at only 51. Immediately the doctor suggested I give a stool sample and, when the results came back positive, a colonoscopy was arranged. A small tumour was found during the procedure, which fortunately was only at stage one. My doctors recommended surgery to remove the tumour as my best option so I went ahead with an operation. No stoma was required. I started chemotherapy after surgery to help minimise...

Brent R's story (32, VIC)

1

I’ve seen the effects of bowel cancer first hand and know I never want to go through it. My Dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer in February 2000. He was just 49 years old. He had had some rectal bleeding and back pain so went to the GP who sent him for a colonoscopy. After this plus scans and blood tests, Dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer which had spread to the liver. He had successful surgery to remove the cancer from the bowel but when the surgeons opened him up to remove the tumour from his liver, they discovere...

Sharon's story (47, QLD)

1

My journey with bowel cancer came as a surprise to me, even though I have an extensive family history of the disease due to Lynch Syndrome (a type of inherited cancer of the digestive tract). My mother, brother and uncle have all had bowel cancer and survived to tell the tale. I suppose I thought it wouldn’t happen to me as I have always been healthy, eaten lots of fruit and veggies plus I’m quite a positive person....

Lynette's story (73, VIC)

1

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 72 – just two weeks shy of my 73rd birthday. I’d experienced a little bit of rectal bleeding, but initially thought it was nothing and would go away. When it didn’t, I visited my GP who recommended a colonoscopy....

Richard (48, NT)

1

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2007. Ironically, I had just given up smoking and was trying to get fit. I was even riding my bike to work for exercise but I was feeling more and more tired. That’s when I knew something was wrong. Three months prior to my diagnosis, I had been experiencing stomach pains and eventually I ended up in the emergency department of hospital.   The doctors there thought I had Crohn’s disease and arranged for me to have a CT scan. That’s when they discovered the tumour....

Andrew's story (22, VIC)

1

In April 2010, I suffered a huge amount of bleeding when I went to the toilet.  I had no warning signs – it just happened out of the blue.  It was so bad that I went straight to the emergency ward at the hospital.  I think they thought it was just haemorrhoids so I was given a DRE (digital rectal examination) and the doctor took some blood and sent me home. ...

Mandi's story (29, NSW )

1

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 24 years old, just before I was due to leave for Europe with a group of girlfriends after finishing university. I had experienced some bleeding from my rectum only one week prior to this time, but at the time I really wasn’t too fussed about getting it looked at because I was so excited about my European adventure, and because of my age....

Mary-Anne's story (49, NT)

1

When I was diagnosed with bowel cancer on 23 June 2011, I didn’t even ask what stage the cancer was at – I just wanted to know what I had to do to fight it. My initial symptoms were rectal bleeding, a change of bowel habit and stomach pain. Eighteen months prior, I had started bleeding and had a colonoscopy which showed nothing. The last colonoscopy five years prior to that had showed a polyp and an unknown growth, neither of which were diagnosed as a cancer. There is no family history of bowel cancer on eith...

Katie's story (35, WA)

1

My brother Jeff was just 31 when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. He passed away nearly two years later in June 2013. He left behind his beautiful wife Nicole and two gorgeous daughters, aged six and four. Jeff did not have any symptoms that rang any alarm bells until he started to feel like he had no energy. He looked pale and we urged him to visit his doctor for some blood tests which showed him to be anaemic. He then had a colonoscopy and gastroscopy, which showed up a large doughnut- shaped tumour in his colon....

Vicki S' story (36, QLD)

1

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 1999 at 36 years of age. Twelve months prior to my diagnosis I had visited my GP and raised concerns about weight loss, rectal bleeding, changes in my bowel habit, stomach pain and feeling tired. My GP told me it was stress-related. After numerous visits I felt like I a hypochondriac so I stopped going to the doctor to report the same symptoms and accepted it was stress (even though I didn’t feel it was stress related). I was a single mother with two young children so I told myself...

Ben's story (28, VIC)

1

I was 28 when I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in January 2011. I’d had rectal bleeding, changed bowel habits and stomach pain for a while but had put off investigating the symptoms – I was living in China at the time so I figured it was either an intestinal infection that I couldn't seem to shake or a reaction to something I’d eaten. ...

Damien's story (26, VIC)

1

When I was first diagnosed with bowel cancer I did not have enough time to feel ‘sad’ or ‘worry’ too much. I am naturally an optimistic person and an ‘action man’. “I can get through this!” I thought to myself. Prior to my diagnosis at age 26, I had been experiencing dull pains in my pelvic area for 3 to 4 years, extending up through to my belly button and around to the right side of my body....

Cherie's story (24, WA)

1

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of 24. Over the period of a few months, I noticed that the urge to go to the toilet was becoming more frequent but I assumed that was because I was pregnant. The other key symptom was severe pain in my tailbone area. I would later find out that this was where the tumour was, though at the time it was also attributed to pregnancy....

Dale's story (49, TAS)

1

Us men rarely go to doctors, let alone get our proper checks. But I recommend to all other men to please listen to your doctor and do exactly what they tell you. Put your faith and trust in them and you will be managed appropriately. I was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer in 2011. Passing blood made me go to my GP to have a check-up. My GP suggested doing a Digital Rectal Examination and having a colonoscopy....

Chelsea's story (38, WA)

1

It was very frightening to realise I might die and leave my two small children (aged 1 and 4 at diagnosis) without their mum after being diagnosed with Stage 3 rectal cancer at the age of 37 in April 2012. I noticed occasional rectal bleeding and after about six weeks I went to my GP. She didn’t think it was urgent but recommended a colonoscopy. After a six week wait and a substantial increase in rectal bleeding, the colonoscopy showed a tumour in my mid to low rectum, plus two polyps in my bowel. Over the next few...

Martin's story (60, NSW)

1

My name is Martin and I’m a happily married father of three and grandfather of one, working as a General Manager in the building industry. I want people to hear my story so that they understand that bowel cancer can happen to anyone at any time. I was sent the bowel screen test kit in 2006. I took the test and the results came back negative. In mid-April 2011, I noticed blood in my stools and thankfully I acted immediately. I am normally a procrastinator, but in this instance I acted swiftly. I saw my GP straightaway...

Mary's story (43, VIC)

1

Unlike many people, I had severe symptoms for some time before I got my diagnosis. For four weeks during the time of seeing my doctor and being diagnosed I had very bad stomach pains and was completely unable to eat.  My condition continued to deteriorate all the time – the stomach pain came and went, becoming sharper and more intense as time passed, and I was generally very sick. By the end of this 4 week period, I was unable to walk.   During this time I saw four GPs, each of whom had a different opinion...

Joy's story (39, NSW)

1

In May 2011 Mum began losing weight and starting experiencing pain on the right side of her abdomen. A colonoscopy discovered a large mass and she was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer. She was 66. Mum was treated with surgery and has since had chemotherapy. Sadly three months ago she started finding it difficult to speak. It seemed as though her nerves were not working effectively, causing her to not be able to eat or talk properly. At that point I didn’t have a good feeling about things so we went back to Mum&rsqu...

Lorraine (50, NSW)

1

We all need to know that cancer does not discriminate. I am a healthy fit woman, with no history of bowel cancer in my family, yet it affected me. I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of 50 after participating in the National Bowel Cancer Screening program. I received the positive results approximately two weeks after sending the test away....

Sinead's story (31, NSW)

1

I was only 26 when I went to my doctor concerned about changes in my bowel habits and feeling very tired. My doctor put it down to stress which frustrated me because I felt I wasn’t being listened to. I went to the ED and remember crying saying, “I know there is something wrong with me”. Coming from a medical background (registered nurse) I demanded to speak with a gastro specialist. The doctor who came along spoke and listened to me as human being, he was empathetic and asked the right questions. He s...

Are you at risk?

           
Both men and women are at risk of developing bowel cancer.  The risk is greater if you -

  • are aged 50 years and over; or
     
  • have a personal or family history of bowel cancer or polyps; or
     
  • have had an inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

There is emerging evidence regarding type 2 diabetes as a potential risk factor for bowel cancer, however further research is required.

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Bowel Cancer Australia publishes a quarterly email Newsletter - highlighting all the latest developments in bowel cancer advocacy, awareness, education, support and research, as well as important services available to bowel cancer patients, loved ones and the community.

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Healthy eating can be a challenge, particularly for bowel cancer patients.  Making things easier and providing practical support is really important to us here at BCA, so check out the helpful high and low fibre recipes, put together by Nutrition Adviser, Teresa.

We also have a range of nutritional resources developed specifically for bowel cancer patients.