Many common conditions can affect the health of our bowels
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 GP 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.
The higher risk symptoms of bowel cancer are:
- Blood in the bowel movement without any obvious reason. If you have symptoms such as straining, soreness, lumps or itchiness, the problem is likely to be piles (haemorrhoids), but it's still important to get this confirmed by your GP.
- A persistent change in bowel habit, especially going to the toilet more or experiencing looser stools for more than two weeks.
- Persistent, severe abdominal pain or a lump in your tummy (abdomen).
- Weight loss and tiredness (a symptom of anaemia).
Most people with these symptoms do not have bowel cancer, but it is very important to have further tests to rule it out. Your symptoms could be caused by other common conditions, that can be treated or controlled by your GP, such as:
- Anal fissures
- Crohn's disease
- Diverticular disease
- Food intolerances and allergies
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Piles (haemorrhoids)
- Ulcerative colitis
Bowel cancer affects around 15,000 Australians every year – men and women of all ages – and claims almost 4,000 lives every year. BUT if bowel cancer is caught early over 90% of cases can be successfully treated. If you have symptoms and you are worried, make an appointment and talk to your GP.