Bowel cancer in younger people
Bowel cancer rates doubled in young Australians 20-29 years and are up by 35% in 30-39 year olds over the two decades between 1990 and 2010.
The findings support other Australian and international research that has shown a worrying global trend towards a higher incidence of bowel cancer in younger people, especially given bowel cancer rates are stabilising or falling in over 50s.
According to the researchers, who reviewed Australia Institute of Health and Welfare data, the average age at which a bowel cancer diagnosis is made in Australia is 69 years.
At just 29 Sarah was enjoying life with her young family when she received the unexpected news – you have bowel cancer.
Four words you don't expect to hear when you're young. Yet the reality is each year over 1,000 young Australians do.
Initially putting the symptoms down to the effects of pregnancy, Sarah decided it was time to see her doctor when she experienced more frequent bowel movements and rapid weight loss after her son was born. "The only reason I'm going to see Angus off to primary school today is because I went and saw my doctor and said "there's something wrong".
Being young does not make you immune to bowel cancer. No one knows your body better than you, so listen to it and if something isn't right make an appointment to speak with your doctor ASAP.
Bowel cancer was the last thing I had expected to happen to me in my early twenties.
I had just celebrated my 21st birthday, was in my last semester of university and recently home from a European adventure.
I experienced years of painful bloating, stomach cramps and changed bowel habits.
The colonoscopy saved my life, revealing dozens of polyps and early stage cancer.
My diagnosis resulted in the loss of my entire large bowel, I had a temporary ileostomy and now live life with a J-Pouch (an internal pouch formed from the small intestine).
I am living proof that you are never too young to have bowel cancer. I have no family history, no other medical conditions but survived because I listened to my body and took action.
Bowel cancer is not an old person's disease.
If you're having symptoms, trust yourself and don't give up until you find the answer.
It could save your life.
At the age of 24 being diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer and secondary liver cancer is definitely something you don't expect to be told.
After months of going to see doctors and being in emergency twice for horrible abdominal pain only to be sent home with the assumption it was "girl problems", thanks to my persistence I was put on a waiting list for a colonoscopy. I really had to push for it to be put as urgent as my pains were getting worse.
Hearing the words "you have cancer" hit me like a tonne of bricks and that I had had it for around 5 years is scary. But I was determined to beat it and I did with strength, determination and a positive mind.
My diagnosis was bad and I was told I had a 5% chance to be alive in 5 years. But after two major operations on my bowel and liver, and 6 months of chemotherapy, I was given the all clear.
One thing I came away with is to listen to your body. Only you know your body and if you think something is not right be persistent. Don't sit on your symptoms. Early detection is the best protection.
Being told everyday you're too young for bowel cancer made me feel isolated, like I was the only one. I urge those who read this to know that you are never too young. Bowel cancer is not just for the over 50s, it can affect anyone. I want to change the perception that bowel cancer is something that only affects older people and to help bring much needed awareness.
Remember you are never too young. Family history or not, be persistent and listen to your body. It could save your life.
Never Too Young Stories
Bowel Cancer Australia's Peer-to-Peer Support Network, is a voluntary community of people affected by bowel cancer, whether personally or via a family member.
To read more stories from young people living with or beyond bowel cancer, and their loved ones, head to Never Too Young Stories.