Bowel cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, after breast cancer, and the third leading cause of cancer deaths in Australian women after lung and breast cancer.
It is a common misconception that bowel cancer is an old man’s disease. Yet the reality is, bowel cancer affects women of all ages, and almost half of all people diagnosed with bowel cancer in Australia each year are women.
But the good news is that bowel cancer is treatable and beatable if detected early.
That’s why it is so important for Aussie women to be Champions of their own health – to be aware and be active when it comes to bowel cancer.
Bowel cancer in pregnancy is distinct from bowel cancer in the general population.
As the presenting features of bowel cancer can overlap with those of pregnancy itself, pregnant patients typically present with advanced bowel cancer.
This is usually a result of delayed diagnosis, and often leads to a poorer prognosis at diagnosis.
When Lawrence Penn was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 1985, the five-year relative survival rate was just 47 percent and life expectancy for newly diagnosed bowel cancer patients with advanced disease was just five months.
But as Lawrence celebrated his 96th birthday in December 2018, the bowel cancer landscape was gratefully a very different one.
In November 2013, at the age of 32, I had just had a career change after being made redundant and had plans to go on extended travels the following year when I mentioned to my boyfriend that I had experienced bleeding when I went to the toilet that had persisted for a few days on a number of occasions.