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THE TRUTHS ABOUT BOWEL CANCER EXPLAINED

How much do YOU know about Bowel Cancer?


TRUE / FALSE

  1. Only men get bowel cancer.
  2. Only people with a family history of bowel cancer need be concerned.
  3. There’s nothing you can do to prevent getting bowel cancer.
  4. If you feel healthy and don’t have any symptoms then you don’t need to be tested

If you answered FALSE to ALL of these then congratulations!  You’re doing well!

If you answered TRUE to any of these then you need to brush up on your bowel facts!

Read on for more information on each of these statements.

  1. Only men get bowel cancer.

Although there is a higher incidence in men, women DO get bowel cancer.  In fact, 1 in 14 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer before the age of 85. This compares to 1 in 10 for men.

In Queensland in 2006 (the latest statistics available), 2741 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer, 1491 of these were male and 1250 of these were female (Cancer Council Queensland, 2008).

  1. Only people with a family history of bowel cancer need be concerned.

Only around 5% of bowel cancers are attributed to a family history. Age and lifestyle choices are the main contributing factors. However, if you do have a family history of bowel cancer, it is important that you speak with your GP.

  1. There’s nothing you can do to prevent getting bowel cancer.

While you can never completely eliminate your risk of getting bowel cancer, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce the risk.  It is estimated that up to 75% of bowel cancers could be prevented through leading a healthy lifestyle.  Things like maintaining a healthy body weight, eating well, being active, limiting your alcohol intake and not smoking all contribute to reducing your risk of bowel cancer.

  1. If you feel healthy and don’t have any symptoms then you don’t need to be tested.

Bowel cancer often doesn’t show any symptoms until it is further advanced.  ‘Screening’ is about testing people with no symptoms who ‘feel healthy’ to find early signs of disease before it causes harm.  Bowel cancer is actually one of the most treatable cancers if detected early and can be prevented with regular screening.

The Australian Government is currently inviting men and women turning 50, 55 or 65 between 2008 and 2010 to participate in bowel cancer screening. Invitations, which include a simple screening test known as a Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), are being sent directly to people in the mail. People who receive a kit are encouraged to participate.

If you are not yet eligible for the Program and if you have any concerns, speak to your GP about your options.

For more information about bowel cancer or bowel cancer screening phone your local Queensland Bowel Cancer Screening Program team on 1300 766 927 or visit www.health.qld.gov.au/bowelcancer.

Received and published by Henry Sapiecha 17th May 2010

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