A new study has found up to 20 per cent of adults with bowel cancer symptoms, such as bleeding, have not consulted a doctor about their symptoms.
The findings suggest there is much more work to be done on raising awareness of bowel cancer in the community and the importance of early detection.
The study is part of the larger Hunter Community Study run by the University of Newcastle and the Hunter and New England Area Health Service.
A survey of the participants aged 56-88 years found 18 per cent of respondents with rectal bleeding and 20 per cent of those with other changes in bowel habits had not sought medical advice.
Most assumed that their symptoms were not serious and therefore delayed seeking medical attention.
While the majority of people with rectal bleeding and other bowel symptoms will not have bowel cancer, Bowel Cancer Australia urges people of all ages to seek immediate attention for unexplained symptoms.
Bowel cancer detected in its early stages can be successfully treated in the vast majority of cases.
For more information on the possible signs and symptoms of bowel cancer, visit the Bowel Cancer: Symptoms webpage.