Bowel Cancer Australia’s annual Never Too Young Awareness Week campaign starts next week (Monday 3rd June), and we’re calling on people around Australia to help spread the word.
I have suffered from constipation periodically, ever since I was young, so I did not regard it as unusual. My father died of cancer in 1995 in the UK. He told me a few years earlier he had had some polyps removed but he had played down the seriousness of his condition when I spoke to him on the phone. I now know he eventually had open abdominal surgery but still not much more information than that. I had assumed his cancer started in his lungs because he was a pipe smoker.
No one ever told me he had bowel cancer – in the mid nineties I had never even heard of bowel cancer. I knew that my mother had Crohn's disease. When I had constipation, I thought I might have Crohn's too and believed there was no treatment to cure this apart from surgery so didn’t want a diagnosis.
A new global study of seven high-income countries has found that in the decade up to 2014, Australia’s second most deadly cancer is on the rise in people under 50.
Published in the Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology the study found the number of people aged under 50 diagnosed with colon cancer increased significantly each year in Australia and New Zealand (by 2.9%), Denmark (by 3.1%) and the UK (by 1.8%).
Significant increases in the number of people under age 50 diagnosed with rectal cancer each year were also noted in Australia (2.6%), Canada (3.4%) and the UK (1.4%).
"I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in July 2015 about one month after my 28th birthday. My gastroenterologist found the tumour by accident whilst I was having a colonoscopy to investigate ulcerative colitis – the cancer was stage 3."
Were you diagnosed with bowel cancer under the age of 50, or do you have a family member or friend that was?