Bowel cancer in men - the facts

  • 1 in 13 Aussie men will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime.
  • Around 8,463 men are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, including 844 (10%) under age 50.
  • Bowel cancer is the third deadliest cancer in men, claiming 2,838 lives each year, including 159 (5.6%) under age 50.
  • Around 54.5% of all Australians diagnosed with bowel cancer are men of all ages.

1 in 14 Aussie men will develop bowel cancer

Bowel Cancer in Men Fertility
Fertility risks

Bowel cancer treatment can come with fertility risks and understanding the preservation options available is an important consideration for many bowel cancer patients.

Just as all other side effects are discussed, possible impacts on fertility should be part of any discussions with your treating specialist before starting treatment for bowel cancer.

Men who receive a bowel cancer diagnosis before beginning or completing their families will often have many questions about how cancer treatment will affect their ability to have children in the future.

Bowel Cancer Australia has put together some helpful information about how bowel cancer surgery and treatment can affect reproductive health, what options exist to help preserve fertility before treatment begins, and what alternatives can be considered for building a family after treatment ends.


Some treatments for bowel cancer carry a risk of infertility for women and men. Your specialist should discuss this risk with you when you are diagnosed.

Even if you’re not ready to have a child now, you might want the option to begin or grow your family in the future. Coping with a cancer diagnosis as well as possible infertility can be hard. You might feel that things are moving very quickly with little time to make important decisions. Your specialists can refer you to a counsellor or a fertility specialist.

Fertility in men

Surgery can cause erection and ejaculation issues and so may affect your fertility. Radiotherapy to the area between the hips (pelvis) usually causes infertility.

Chemotherapy can cause your body to slow down or stop the production of sperm. This can be temporary or permanent, depending on the drug and the dose. If it is temporary, sperm production can take several years to fully recover. If you are having more than one chemotherapy drug, you are more likely to have a low sperm count or stop producing sperm completely.

You will be offered the chance to store some sperm before you start your treatment, and your specialist can tell you more about this.

When to talk to your specialist about your fertility

Although you can talk to your specialist about your fertility concerns anytime, it is best to discuss them early during diagnosis and treatment planning, and before you start any treatment. This allows time for referral to a fertility specialist to learn about your risk of infertility and pursue fertility preservation, if you desire.


Both men and women should use contraception during radiotherapy and chemotherapy and for about a year after treatment ends. This is because these treatments can damage sperm and eggs or harm a developing baby.


December is Decembeard

December is Decembeard for Bowel Cancer Australia
Grow a beard and help beat bowel cancer.
A hair-raising fundraiser, Decembeard encourages men to grow a beard or some chin stubble to raise awareness and much needed funds for bowel cancer. Even better let your face fur flow for the final two months of the year.
Beards aren't just for hipsters, grandpas, men that ride motorbikes or people that are too lazy to shave. Anyone can help make real change happen. All you need to do is grow a beard or some chin stubble and promote your facial hair to raise awareness and funds for Australia’s second deadliest cancer.
Women and children are also encouraged to take part in Decembeard by making or faking a beard and encouraging their fathers, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, partners and male friends to find out about bowel cancer and grow a beard for Decembeard!
Decembeard's goal is to have a lasting impact on our health future - where no one dies of bowel cancer and all those diagnosed receive the support they need.
Sign up now and start making a difference at Decembeard Australia.


Decembeard Me My Beard and Why

Me, My Decembeard and Why

A number of men living with or beyond bowel cancer and their loved ones have shared their empowering stories, you can read their Me, My Decembeard and Why stories here.

Become the face of Decembeard Australia!

Would you like to share your bowel cancer story to help raise awareness of bowel cancer in men?

To help challenge misconceptions associated with bowel cancer we need your help to spread the word!

Whether you are living with bowel cancer, beyond bowel cancer or know someone who is, we want to hear from you!

To share your story and upload a photo, please click here.


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