DECEMBER FOR BOWEL CANCER!
December is Decembeard for Bowel Cancer Australia.
Decembeard Australia’s goal is to have a lasting impact on our health future – where no one dies of bowel cancer and all those diagnosed receive the support they need.
Now in its sixth year down under, Decembeard encourages men to grow a beard in the final month of the year to raise awareness and much needed funds for bowel cancer. One of the many things Australia has in common with the UK, as well as our joint love of facial hair, is that bowel cancer is also Australia’s second-biggest cancer killer.
That’s why we’re asking Aussie men to grow a beard this December, raise funds and help beat bowel cancer.
For More Information, click here.
BOWEL CANCER AND MEN
Bowel cancer is the third-deadliest cancer in men
Bowel cancer kills more than 2,300 men each year, 240 (10%) are under age 55.
More than 8,000 Australian men are diagnosed with the disease each year.
Around 1,037 (15%) of those men diagnosed with bowel cancer are under age 55.
- 1 in 11 Australian men will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime.
- Bowel cancer affects men of all ages – and risk increases every year from age 50.
- Around 55% of all Australians diagnosed with bowel cancer are men.
- Choices you make related to diet, lifestyle, screening and surveillance can influence your bowel cancer risk.
- Because you can change or modify these risk factors, they are referred to as ‘modifiable’.
- Increased age, personal and family health history and hereditary conditions can also influence your bowel cancer risk.
- Because you cannot change these risk factors, they are referred to as ‘non-modifiable’.
WHAT IS BOWEL CANCER?
Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, can affect any part of the large bowel (colon) or rectum; it may also be referred to as colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where the cancer is located. The colon and rectum together are known as the large bowel. The colon (the first 1.8 metres of the large bowel) mainly absorbs water and the rectum and anal canal (the last 15 centimetres of the large bowel) stores waste material (faeces) until they are passed from the body through the anus.
Most bowel cancers start as benign, non-threatening growths – called polyps – on the wall or lining of the bowel. Polyps are usually harmless; however, adenomatous polyps can become cancerous (malignant) and if left undetected, can develop into a cancerous tumour.
In advanced cases, the cancerous tumour can spread (metastasise) beyond the bowel to other organs.
During the early stages of bowel cancer, patients may have no symptoms, which is why screening is so important.
Any of the below symptoms could be indicative of bowel or rectal cancer and should be investigated by your GP if they persist for more than two weeks:
- Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding
- A recent, persistent change in bowel habit, especially if severe (including diarrhoea, constipation or the feeling of incomplete emptying)
- A change in the shape or appearance of bowel movements (e.g., more narrow than usual)
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Pain or a lump in the anus or rectum
- Unexplained anaemia
- A feeling that the bowel has not emptied completely after a bowel movement
Not everyone who experiences these symptoms has bowel cancer. Other medical conditions, some foods and certain medicines can also cause these changes. However, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms for more than two weeks, don’t delay in talking to your GP about them.
Early detection could save your life.
No matter your age, you should never be told that you are “too young” to have bowel cancer.
Most men who develop bowel cancer have no family history of the disease. However, having a relative, especially a first-degree relative such as a parent, brother, sister or child with bowel cancer can increase your risk of developing bowel cancer.
If you have three close relatives diagnosed with bowel cancer at any age, you would be considered to have a high bowel cancer risk.
It is advisable to see your GP for individual advice about bowel cancer surveillance or screening.
DIET & LIFESTYLE
Choices you make related to diet, lifestyle, screening and surveillance can influence your bowel cancer risk.
Because you can change or modify these risk factors, they are referred to as ‘modifiable’.
SCREENING & SURVEILLANCE
It is recommended that everyone participate in screening appropriate to your personal level of risk.
- It is medically recommended that people aged 50 and over who do not have a family or personal history of bowel cancer, or an inherited gene mutation, should screen using a Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) every 1 to 2 years.
- If you have one relative diagnosed with bowel cancer at age 55 years or older, screening should be considered every 2 years from age 45.
By 2020, Australia will have a tax-payer funded National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP), whereby people aged 50-74 will receive a tax-payer funded screening test in the mail every 2 years.
Screening can be requested by your GP, or BowelScreen Australia screening tests can be purchased online at bowelsecreenaustralia.org and over the telephone on 1800 555 494.
Regular surveillance may be recommended by a specialist for people with a family or personal history of bowel cancer and/or if they are considered to have a high bowel cancer risk.
- Bowel Cancer Australia
- National Bowel Cancer Screening Program
- Cancer Council VIC
- Department of Human Services
- VIC Health Services
- Cancer Council AUS