DID you know that June was Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and that the chances of getting bowel cancer increases from the age of 50? Bowel cancer can develop without symptoms and in healthy men and women.
80 per cent of people who develop bowel cancer do not have a family history of the disease but the good news is that if found early, nine out of 10 bowel cancers can be successfully treated.
All 50 to 74 year olds will receive a bowel test kit in the mail every two years as part of the government cancer screening program. It’s free, quick, clean and easily done in your own home with two small samples of poo at separate times. It’s highly accurate if stored in the fridge until posted. Doing this quickly is important for the best result.
The test looks for traces of blood in the motion (poo). Bowel cancer and polyps (small lumps that can grow on the lining or wall of the bowel) leak tiny amounts of blood. Polyps are not cancer but can develop into cancer over time they can be easily removed if detected early thus reducing the risk of cancer.
The bowel is part of the digestive system and consists of three parts: small bowel which absorbs nutrients from broken down food, colon mainly absorbs water and rectum which stores the poo until it passes out of the body through the anus.
Bowel cancer commonly develops in the colon or rectum, developing from the polyps or small lumps on the lining of the bowel.
Recent and persistent changes in toilet habits, like loose poo, severe constipation, increased need to pass poo, increased unexplained tiredness and weight loss and stomach pain are some of the symptoms that may occur.
Those most at risk include people over 50, who are overweight, have a diet high in red and processed meats and low in vegetables, fruit, beans and whole grains, who have a high alcohol intake, smokers, those with infl ammatory bowel disease and a strong family history of bowel cancer.
If blood is found in your sample there could be a number of reasons including polyps, haemorrhoids or infl ammation of the bowel and it is best to discuss with the doctor. A recommendation for a colonoscopy to fi nd the reason may be advised.
To reduce your risk of bowel cancer, ensure you test every two years, eat a healthy diet, be physically active and sit less, reduce the amount of alcohol you drink and don’t smoke.
So, get your test kit out, put it somewhere to remind you and commit to the days you will take the sample. Follow the simple directions, complete the form, post it in a timely manner and you will be done and dusted.