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June Health Promotion - Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer is a malignant growth that develops inside the bowel. It is also called colon, rectal or colorectal cancer.

Bowel cancer is the second highest cause of cancer death in New Zealand, but it can be treated successfully if it is detected and treated early.

You are more at risk of developing bowel cancer if:

·         you have a history of a number of family members over two or three generations being affected with bowel cancer

·         you or a close family member have been diagnosed with bowel cancer at a young age (under 55 years)

·         there is a known genetic bowel cancer syndrome in your family, or a concern that you might have one

·         you have had extensive inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis for more than 10 years.

New Zealand has one of the highest bowel cancer rates in the world. Bowel cancer is the second highest cause of cancer death in New Zealand. In 2011, 3030 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer and 1191 died from the disease.

Signs and symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of bowel cancer may include:

·         a change in your normal pattern of going to the toilet that continues for several weeks (such as diarrhoea, constipation, or feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely

·         blood in your bowel motion.

Although these symptoms are often caused by other conditions, it is important to get them checked by your doctor.

People who are diagnosed with bowel cancer, and receive treatment when it is at an early stage, have a 90 percent chance of long term survival. If there is a delay in diagnosis and treatment, and the cancer may become more advanced, it is harder to cure.