Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Bowel cancer awareness month

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, and an ideal chance to take a look at the nature of bowel cancer, the crucial importance of early diagnosis and the value of screening and genetic testing.

Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, affects the large bowel. It is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, despite the fact that it is a treatable and curable cancer, especially when diagnosed early. It is currently the 4th most common cancer in the UK, with over 41,800 people diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK.

More than 90% of new cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 50, but bowel cancer can affect any age, and 2,500 new cases are diagnosed each year in people under the age of 50 . Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, affects the large bowel.

It is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, despite the fact that it is a treatable and curable cancer, especially when diagnosed early. It is currently the 4th most common cancer in the UK, with over 41,200 people diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK.

More than 90% of new cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 50, but bowel cancer can affect any age, and 2,500 new cases are diagnosed each year in people under the age of 50 . 

The key to treating bowel cancer, as with many cancers, is early diagnosis: this can often mean diagnosis before symptoms have manifested. Screening tests healthy people to identify early signs of cancer that may otherwise go unnoticed. If detected, treatment of cancer at this early stage has the highest chance of success.

Currently, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, residents over the age of 60 are eligible for screening on the NHS, while in Scotland this service is available to those over 50 . However, bowel cancer can affect any age group, and the worried well in younger age groups should visit their GP or be screened privately.

Check4Cancer’s BowelCheck service includes an individual risk assessment questionnaire, covering family history, symptoms and medical history. Results from this provide users with future screening recommendations (e.g: every year, every 2 years etc).

This service is available to men and women aged 45+, enabling earlier diagnosis and treatment of bowel cancer.

There is also a genetic component relating to bowel cancer that is less well known to the general public.  Lynch syndrome (LS) is a genetic condition that increases your lifetime risk of bowel cancer to up to 80% and can be causally linked to up to 4% of bowel cancer cases .

It causes no symptoms, but significantly increases carriers risk of developing bowel cancer, womb cancer and some other cancers.

Genetic testing, available to those age 18 and over through Check4Cancer, can alert people to a higher risk of bowel cancer caused by LS, enabling those who test positive to ensure they are screened for bowel cancer regularly. This increases the chance of early diagnosis and recovery.

Immediate family of LS carriers also have a 50% chance of also having the syndrome . Those diagnosed with LS can therefore advise their family to also be tested for LS and, if necessary, for bowel cancer. In this case, knowledge really is power. 

With the prevalence of cancer undoubtedly on the rise, we must be more vigilant than ever to give our family’s, and ourselves, the best chance of treatment and survival. Early diagnosis really can save lives, and screening and genetic testing, such as the services offered by BowelHealthUK can enable this.


Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

This March we are joining with our international colleagues and collaborators to raise awareness of Colorectal Cancer and to build support for more research to improve treatments and ultimately better outcomes for those diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer.

In Australia, Colorectal Cancer is estimated to be the 3rd most commonly diagnosed type of cancer and the 2nd leading cause of death. New cases of Colorectal Cancer have increased from 6,988 in 1982 to over 17,000 in 2018.

To mark Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month – the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, an American based non-profit, has developed a very clever ‘Dont ASSume’ campaign (visual examples below).

We are encouraging all Australians to #CYA (Cover Your Arse) by knowing the risks, symptoms and undertaking regular screening as well as helping support research efforts to improve treatments – all of which will enable us to beat this very common disease.

Image Credit: Colorectal Cancer Alliance –

Colorectal Cancer At A Glance*

  • Colorectal Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in Australia
  • On average, your risk of being diagnosed is about 1 in 13, although this varies widely according to individual risk factors
  • 93% of bowel cancers occur in people aged 50 or over, however incidence in Australians aged 20-39 has been increasing since the mid-1990’s
  • About 15-20% of people who develop Colorectal Cancer have a first-degree relative (parent sibling child) also affected by the disease
  • When diagnosed early the 5-year survival rate can be as high as 99% – although currently in Australia only 46% of cases are diagnosed early
  • Un many GI Cancers, early detection via screening is available for Colorectal Cancer, which is simple, easily accessible via your GP or Pharmacist, and not expensive
  • By detecting Colorectal Cancer at an early stage patients can ensure a far better chance of long-terms survival and quality of life
  • There are currently more than 50,000 Colorectal Cancer survivors in Australia. With greater uptake in bowel cancer screening, and in turn early detection, this number is expected to continue to rise

What is the GI Cancer Institute currently doing to help patients today?

The GI Cancer Institute has conducted many practice changing clinical trials over the past 2 decades. Currently there are 5 trials focused on bowel cancer open to recruitment across Australia – click here for more.

View this short video to hear from Dr Matthew Burge on the Risk Factors and Symptoms of Bowel Cancer along with more on our current MONARCC research study – which is recruiting now! This study is aimed at improving survival and quality of life for a large proportion of those diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer …

How to #CYA?

As part of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month we are encouraging all supporters to #CYA, get involved and help raise awareness of this disease. Please:

  • Talk to those over 50’s in your life about the risk and encourage them to regularly do the free Bowel Cancer screening test
  • Don’t assume you are too young or that it won’t happen to you – be proactive with your health, know the symptoms and seek medical advice if you notice changes or are concerned
  • and Follow us on &/or – and share posts and updates throughout March with your networks
  • Support our research that will enable more Australians to access new treatments 3- 5 years faster than if it was conducted overseas. DONATE TODAY (the option to designate your donation toward bowel cancer research is available)

Stages of Colorectal Cancer?

There are four stages of colorectal cancer. The early stages are stage 1 and 2, where the cancer is contained within the bowel. The five-year survival rate is highest for these cancers – Australians with stage 1 colorectal cancer have a 99% five-year survival rate. This decreases for each stage of cancer.

Stage 3 cancer, where the cancer is larger and may have started to spread to surrounding tissues and lymph nodes, is more advanced. At stage 4, the cancer has spread from where it started to another body organ. Australians diagnosed with stage 4 cancer have a five-year survival rate of 13%.

How to detect it early?

Colorectal cancer can be detected at an early stage, even if there are no symptoms, through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

It offers free screening every 2 years, using an immunochemical faecal occult blood test (iFOBT), to people aged 50–74.

This is a non-invasive test that can detect microscopic amounts of blood in a bowel motion, which may indicate a bowel abnormality such as an adenoma or cancer.

What are symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?

Symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from the bottom
  • Blood in stools
  • A change in bowel habits lasting at least three weeks
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme, unexplained tiredness
  • Abdominal pain

Who is most at risk?

Most cases have no clear cause, however, people are more at risk if they:

  • Are over 50
  • Have a family history of the condition
  • Have a personal history of polyps in their bowel
  • Suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Lead an unhealthy lifestyle


Colorectal Cancer Does Not Discriminate – one patient’s storyPaula Kotowicz was only 49 when she was diagnosed. She was one of those people who never seemed to catch so much as a cold. In her late forties, with two teenage daughters and a thriving mental health counselling practice, life felt good.Then, she caught a bad flu in 2015 and afterwards she started having some digestive trouble. Still, she didn’t think there was much to worry about. She dutifully underwent ultrasounds and tests.The last was a colonoscopy – and that’s when doctors discovered a tennis ball-sized tumour in her bowel.READ MORE ABOUT PAULA’s STORY HERE

Bowel, or colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in Australia and frighteningly, patients are getting younger. The GI Cancer Institute is working hard on research to discover better treatments that save more lives.

*Statistics and Data Sources: AIHW Digestive Cancers Report 2017 + +


Bowel Cancer Awareness Month-Tips to help beat bowel cancer

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, a Bowel Cancer Australia initiative to raise awareness of Australia’s second deadliest cancer and raise funds for the leading community-funded charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and the best care for everyone affected by bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer claims the lives of 103 Australians every week (5,375 people a year) – but it’s one of the most treatable types of cancer if found early.

While the risk of bowel cancer increases significantly with age, the disease doesn’t discriminate, affecting men and women, young and old.

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.

Get screened

It is 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 get screened for bowel cancer every 1 to 2 years. People from families with bowel cancer need extra testing to find bowel cancer early. This includes having a colonoscopy every five years.

Quit smoking and minimise booze

Evidence reveals quitting smoking, abstaining from or limiting alcohol consumption, and eating foods containing dietary fibre are all beneficial.

Eat a healthy high-fibre diet

Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables, reducing saturated fats (in animal products, processed foods and takeaway).

There is also strong evidence the eating fibre can help prevent bowel cancer by reducing the risk of problems such as constipation and inflammation of the bowel wall.

National guidelines recommend 2 serves of fruits, 5 serves of vegetables, and wholegrain foods every day.

Reduce consumption of red and processed meat

Research has shown a moderate effect of red meat in increasing risk of bowel cancer, especially with processed meat. Charring of meat is best avoided.

Watch your weight

Maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in regular physical activity have also been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, but not rectal cancer.

Keep moving

People who are more physically active before a bowel cancer diagnosis are less ly to die from the disease than those who are less active.

Know your family history

Heredity (the genetic transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring) plays a big role in bowel cancer; up to 20% of people who develop bowel cancer have a relative with the disease. Find out if your relatives had bowel cancer or polyps (growths in the colon or rectum) that can be precursors of the disease. Also find out how old they were when they were diagnosed.

If you think you have a family history of bowel cancer or an inherited gene mutation, you should make an appointment with your GP to talk about your own risk. Don’t delay, book an appointment today!



Bowel cancer is a commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia; however it is potentially one of the most preventable cancers through the early detection of abnormalities from screening.

What should you look out for? What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is usually a slow-growing cancer. There are often no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. The most common symptoms of bowel cancer are:

  • Bleeding from the rectum (this may be noticed as blood in the stools)
  • Symptoms of anaemia
  • A change in bowel habit (loose stools or constipation)
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Bloating
  • Weight loss
  • Unexplained tiredness or fatigue.

There are a number of conditions that may cause these symptoms, not just bowel cancer. If any of these symptoms are experienced, it is important they are discussed with your doctor.

Things you can do to reduce your risk

While some risk factors are outside of our control, evidence shows that around one third of cancers are potentially preventable.

Some lifestyle factors can affect a person’s risk of developing cancer. There are some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of cancer which include quitting smoking, being sun smart, maintaining a healthy diet, getting active and limiting alcohol intake.

National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program  sends a free bowel cancer screening kit to Australians aged 50-74 every two years.

Bowel cancer screening saves lives. It is the best way of detecting bowel cancer early, because the disease often develops without symptoms.

Early diagnosis improves treatment options and chances of survival. Evidence shows regular screening can reduce deaths from bowel cancer by 15-25% and prevent between 300-500 deaths each year.

So when you receive your kit, it’s important that you complete and return it.

For more information on the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program visit

What are the risk factors for bowel cancer?

A risk factor that is associated with an increased chance of developing a particular health condition, such as bowel cancer. There are different types of risk factors, some of which can be modified and which cannot.

It should be noted that having one or more risk factors does not mean a person will develop bowel cancer.

Many people have at least one risk factor but will never develop bowel cancer, while others with bowel cancer may have had no known risk factors.

Even if a person with bowel cancer has a risk factor, it is usually hard to know how much that risk factor contributed to the development of their disease.

While the causes of bowel cancer are not fully understood, there are a number of factors associated with the risk of developing the disease. These factors include:

  • Increasing age
  • A personal history of bowel cancer or polyps
  • A family history of bowel cancer, adenoma or gynaecological cancer
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease.

Find out more about:


Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month throughout Australia. According to Bowel Cancer Australia 80 people die from bowel cancer in Australia every week, making it the 2nd deadliest cancer in the country.

Bowel Cancer Australia advocates early detection, and so it’s very important to visit your local GP should you be worried about any of the warning symptoms.

Bowel Cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, can affect men and women of any age, and usually starts as benign, non-threatening growths:

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.

Bowel Cancer Australia

The symptoms of Bowel Cancer

The early stages of bowel cancer often present no symptoms, which is why bowel cancer screening is important.

Park Medical Group urges you to visit your GP should you notice any of the following persisting for longer than a fortnight (2 weeks):

  • Blood in the stool
  • A recent, persistent change in bowel habit
  • A change in shape/consistency of the stool/poo
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Unexplained anaemia
  • A feeling that the bowel has not emptied completely
  • Unexplained fatigue

Your risk of bowel cancer increases if you smoke, eat red meat (especially charred), eating processed meats, drinking alcohol or being overweight. You can find more information on the Bowel Cancer Australia website. These risks can be modified by making changes to lifestyle and diet.

Bowel cancer can also be inherited genetically – your risk category depends on how many relatives have had bowel cancer and their age at diagnosis.

How to reduce your risk of Bowel Cancer

You can reduce your risk of Bowel Cancer by: 

  • Not smoking
  • Eating healthily
  • Being active 
  • Limiting alcohol

Bowel Cancer Screening

According to Bowel Cancer Australia, by 2020 Australia will have a ‘tax-payer funded National Bowel Cancer Screening Program […]’ whereby people aged 50 – 74 will receive a tax-payer funded screening test in the mail every 2 years.’

This test will alert users as to whether or not they should make an appointment with a GP to investigate their results further.

Bowel Cancer Australia states that people who have a family history of bowel cancer need extra testing in order to detect bowel cancer as early as possible – this can include having a colonoscopy every five years, and possibly ‘taking low-dose aspirin regularly from age 25.’

For more information on bowel cancer, and to learn more about reducing your risk, visit the Bowel Cancer Australia website.

If you are concerned about your risk of developing bowel cancer, or believe you may be experiencing the early warning symptoms of bowel cancer, please do not hesitate to contact Park Medical Group for an appointment with one of our doctors to discuss further screening options.


Colon Cancer Awareness Month: What You Need to Know

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer is responsible for an estimated 50,000 deaths each year. But thanks to increased colon cancer awareness efforts, the death rate has been dropping steadily since the 1980s.

March is National Colorectal Awareness Month, an observance dedicated to encouraging patients, survivors, and caregivers to share their stories, advocate for colorectal cancer prevention, and inform others about the importance of early detection. Dark blue ribbons and clothes are worn throughout March to spark curiosity and start a conversation about colon cancer awareness.

The Department of Gastroenterology at Florida Medical Clinic proudly supports this mission by offering colon cancer screenings at several locations throughout the Greater Tampa Bay area.

We also believe that an informed patient is an empowered patient, which is why in honor of Colon Cancer Awareness Month, we’re laying out some of the most important information you should know about colorectal cancer.

Common Myths About Colorectal Cancer

Colon cancer is the second deadliest cancer. However, there are quite a few myths surrounding colon and rectal cancer that prevent people from getting tested.

Myth #1: “It only happens to men.”

The truth: The overall lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer for women (1 in 24) is only slightly lower than it is for men (1 in 22). Age is a much bigger risk factor than sex.

Myth #2: “I’m too young to get colon cancer.”

The truth: While it’s true that more than 9 10 instances of colorectal cancer occur in people over the age of 50, the American Cancer Society recently changed their guidelines to recommend screenings starting earlier, at age 45. This is due to a sharp rise in the number of young adults diagnosed with colon cancer each year.

Myth #3: “Colonoscopies are painful.”

The truth: Colonoscopy is a common test familiar to many but not well known by all patients. Sure, it’s not exactly pleasant, but it’s not as bad as you think. For starters, most people only need one every 10 years.

To prepare for the procedure, you’ll have to avoid solid foods and take a bowel-cleaning substance the day before the procedure to clear your colon.

During the procedure, you’ll receive a sedating medication to make you more comfortable, and most people can return to their normal activities that same day. All in all, the hassle is worth it.

Precancerous polyps can be removed during the procedure, which is much easier than treating late-stage colon cancer, which may involve surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.

Myth #4: “Colonoscopies are dangerous.”

The truth: A colonoscopy is a medical procedure, so yes, complications are possible.

Rarely, a colonoscopy can create tears in the colon or trigger diverticulitis, an infection of the pouches inside the colon wall. Overall, the complication rate is estimated to be less than 1% for all complications.

Your doctor will discuss these risks with you before the procedure, but in most cases, the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks.

If you’re still anxious about having a colonoscopy done after talking with your doctor, there are other tests used to screen for colon cancer. While a colonoscopy is still the most accurate test available, you may be more comfortable with a fecal blood test (FOBT) performed every 1 or 2 years, or a sigmoidoscopy, which is similar to a colonoscopy but is less intensive.

When Should You Be Screened for Colon Cancer?

For someone at an average risk of colon cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends having a colonoscopy once every 5 to 10 years beginning at age 45.

Someone at a higher risk of developing colon or rectal cancer may need to be tested earlier or more often. You have a higher risk of colon cancer if you have:

  • A family history of colorectal polyps/cancer
  • An inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis
  • An inherited syndrome, such as Lynch syndrome, that increases your cancer risk
  • Type 2 diabetes

Some colorectal risk factors can be controlled, such as:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • High red meat consumption

Talk with your doctor about these risk factors and whether early screening is right for you.

How to Prioritize Your Colon Health

Regular screenings aren’t the only way to prevent colorectal cancer. There are lifestyle changes you can make today to prioritize your colon health and prevent cancer.

There is strong evidence to suggest that the following diet and exercise adjustments can significantly reduce your risk of colorectal cancer:

  • Adding more whole grains to your diet (3 servings per day)
  • Cutting back on red meat, such as beef and pork
  • Reducing your alcohol intake
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Engaging in regular exercise

While making these lifestyle changes is important for cancer prevention and your overall health, they are not a substitute for cancer screenings. Colon cancer can develop over the course of 10 to 15 years before causing any symptoms. The detection and removal of precancerous polyps at least once every 10 years is crucial.

Talk with your doctor about what screening tests they recommend and how often. If you’re at an increased risk due to a family history of colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, ask your doctor if you should start screening before the age of 45.

Steps You Can Take to Raise Awareness

Awareness is the first step to action. This March, there are many different ways that you can be a part of National Colon Cancer Awareness month.

If you’re able to donate to an organization that supports colon cancer awareness, education, and research, donate. Wearing a dark blue ribbon is another easy way to show your support for a loved one battling colon cancer.

You can also start a conversation with friends and family about the importance of colon cancer screenings, or take to social media to spread the word. If colon cancer has affected your life in any way – maybe you’re a survivor, caregiver, or lost a loved one – share your story. You never know what kind of impact you’ll have on someone else.

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance has more information about fundraising and educational events.

How Will You Fight Colon Cancer?

Between 2000 and 2014, death rates for colorectal cancer dropped 34% among patients 50 and older. By continuing to spread the word about the importance of regular screenings, we can bring the number of deaths closer to zero.

How will you be an advocate for colon cancer awareness in March? Whether it’s something as simple as wearing a blue ribbon to show your support or as involved as hosting a fundraiser, every bit helps to get the message across.

 At Florida Medical Clinic, our GI doctors empower patients to be active participants in their own health care.

If you are over the age of 45 or at an increased risk of colon cancer, schedule an appointment with a board-certified gastroenterologist today.