Reducing Your Risk of Bowel Cancer – Australia’s Second Deadliest Cancer
The bowel is an integral part of our digestive systems. The small intestine is also referred to as the small bowel. The large bowel is known as the large intestine, with this part of the bowel also including the rectum and the anal canal. Bowel cancer can also be referred to as colorectal cancer, colon cancer or rectal cancer.
- This type of cancer can cause bleeding, that is often due as a result of a narrowing or a blockage of the bowel.
In advanced bowel cancer, the disease can also spread to other organs and parts of the body.
These are known as secondary cancers, or as metastasis that can spread throughout the body, other than the bowel.
In his role as the recently appointed CEO of Bowel Cancer Australia, Mr Wiggins stresses the importance of recognising the symptoms of bowel cancer – a vitally important factor that can lead to seeking out life-saving medical treatment at the earliest possible opportunity.
Typical symptoms of bowel cancer include the following:
•A change in bowel habits
•Bleeding from the rectum
•Unexplained weight loss
•Excessive tiredness or fatigue
•The presence of abdominal pain, cramping or bloating
There area range of positive lifestyle choices and behaviours that you can incorporate into your daily life that will greatly reduce the likelihood of a bowel cancer diagnosis.
Modifiable risks are those that we can mitigate -or reduce by our behaviour.
Listed below are some of the more common modifiable risks that can affectthe likelihood of developing bowel cancer.
The most accurate measurements of being overweight include measuring your body mass index (BMI), or your waist circumference or to hip ratio.
If you smoke 40 cigarettes per day–this increases your risk of bowel cancer by approximately 40 per cent -and almost doubles the risk of bowel cancer death.
Aim to consume 400 grams of dairy products per day. This amount of dairy consumption is associated with a 13 percent decreased risk of bowel cancer.
If you do eat red meat, limit your intake to no more than three portions per week and eat a bare minimum, or even better -no processed meat.
These servings can include vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, wholemeal bread and brown rice.
The need for regular testing for those at heightened risk and those over the age of 50, cannot be over emphasised.
The Australian Government has now introduced the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) to help reduce the number of deaths from bowel cancer in Australia.
Considered a world-leading initiative, all eligible Australians between 50-74years of age receive a taxpayer-funded birthday present in the form a faecal immunochemical test (FIT) in the mail. Recipients receive these testing kits every two years and are asked to take two separate faecal samples.
These samples are then sent by return mail to designated government accredited laboratories for analysis.
“At-home screening can play a vital role in the early detection of bowel cancer which often develops without any warning signs,” said Bowel Cancer Australia CEO Julien Wiggins.