80 Australians die every week from bowel cancer - Know the symptoms

Bowel Cancer Australia

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A national study of Australians diagnosed with metastatic bowel cancer – the country’s second biggest cancer killer – reveals more than half of respondents were either unaware or unsure of bowel cancer symptoms.
Bowel Cancer Australia chief executive Mr Julien Wiggins said the findings from the latest survey released to coincide with Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, highlight the need for people to know the symptoms when it comes to bowel cancer.
Results from the survey found 60% of respondents were diagnosed as a result of reporting symptoms to a GP or at a hospital ER.
The top three symptoms experienced by respondents prior to diagnosis included –

  • Abdominal pain (43%)
  • Rectal bleeding, blood in the bowel movement (41%)
  • Fatigue, tiredness, anaemia (36%)
Other symptoms can include -

  • A persistent change in bowel habit
  • A change in appearance of bowel movements
  • Unexplained weight loss
“80 Australians die every week from bowel cancer, making it our nation’s second biggest cancer killer,” Mr Wiggins said.
“It is important to be suspicious of symptoms. If they are suggestive of bowel cancer, then referral for colonoscopy within four weeks is recommended,” he added.
Respondents under age 50 at diagnosis were significantly more likely to report the following symptoms than those aged over 50 -

  • Abdominal pain (53% v 23%)
  • Constipation (37% v 17%)
  • Change of appearance of stool (21% v 7%)
1 in 4 respondents diagnosed as a result of visiting a GP or ER reported waiting more than three months between initial symptom reporting and receiving a colonoscopy.
Bowel Cancer Australia has created a simple, downloadable two-week Know the Symptoms diary resource, to help track changes which may be suggestive of bowel cancer.
If symptoms persist beyond that time, people are encouraged to contact their GP and take the Symptom Diary with them to their appointment to use as an aid when sharing their concerns.
Specialists around the world agree that symptom awareness is critical in order to improve earlier detection, when 90 percent of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated.
This June, Bowel Cancer Australia is calling on all Australians to help beat bowel cancer. Get behind it!
For more information about bowel cancer visit the Bowel Cancer Awareness Month website,  or call the Bowel Cancer Australia Helpline on 1800 555 494.
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