The Digestive System
The gastrointestinal or digestive tract (also known at the GI tract or gut) is the system of organs which remove and process nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins and water) from foods and helps pass waste material out of the body.
The gastrointestinal tract is made up of the oesophagus, stomach and the small and large intestines.
The oesophagus is the hollow muscular tube that moves food and liquid from the throat to the stomach. The wall of the oesophagus is made up of several layers of tissue, including mucous membrane, muscle and connective tissue.
What is Anal Cancer?
Anal cancer is a rare disease, affecting around 398 people a year in Australia (AIHW). It is slightly more common in women than in men.
The outlook for anal cancer is often better than for other types of bowel cancer, especially when caught in the earlier stages.
The anus (back passage) is the 4 cm long end portion of the large bowel, which opens to allow solid waste to exit the body.
What is Bowel Cancer?
When your doctor talks about bowel cancer (also known as colorectal cancer or colon cancer) they are referring to cancer of the colon or rectum.
Most bowel cancers develop from tiny growths called 'polyps'.
Not all polyps, known as adenomas, can become cancerous (malignant).
Over time some polyps can become cancerous.
Cancer can narrow and block the bowel or cause bleeding. In more advanced cases, the cancer can spread beyond the bowel to other organs.
Bowel Cancer - Prevention
Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer. By preventing cancer, the number of new cases of bowel cancer in the Australian population is lowered. Hopefully, this will lower the number of deaths caused by bowel cancer over time.
While no cancer is completely preventable, it is estimated that changes in diet and physical activity could reduce the incidence of bowel cancer by up to 75%. Read More
Bowel Cancer Risk Factors
Anything that increases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer risk factor; anything that decreases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer protective factor.
Some risk factors for cancer can be avoided, but many cannot. Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may lower your risk, but it does not mean that you will not get cancer.
Age, health history and inheriting certain genes can affect the risk of developing bowel cancer.
Signs & Symptoms
Possible signs of bowel cancer include a change in bowel habit or blood in the bowel movement.
Don't delay in talking to your GP is you are experiencing symptoms for two weeks or more, because when diagnosed early 90 percent of cases can be successfully treated.
Not everyone experiences symptoms, particularly in the early stages of bowel cancer.
Changes can also be due to other medical conditions, some foods or medicines.
Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding should never be ignored.
What Else Could It Be?
There are many common conditions that can affect the health of our bottoms and bowels, and many have symptoms similar to bowel cancer.
Although you might feel embarrassed to talk about them, it is important to get checked out by your doctor if you notice anything unusual.
In most cases, the diagnosis will not be bowel cancer, but if you have symptoms and are worried, make an appointment to talk to your GP. Read More
Bowel Cancer - The Facts
Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world.
Bowel cancer is the third most common type of newly diagnosed cancer in Australia.
14,958 Australians are told they have bowel cancer every year.
Bowel cancer is Australia's second biggest cancer killer after lung cancer, claiming the lives of 4,162 people every year.