bowel cancer screening

When Should You Consider Bowel Cancer Screening?

Hey there Guys. Today I really wanted to talk about an important issue: Bowel cancer. It’s not pleasant to talk about but early intervention saves lives. Have you considered getting a colonoscopy?

Research released this month shows in Australia only two thirds of immediate family members of someone diagnosed with bowel cancer were ever screened for colorectal cancer.

While diet, exercise and reducing abdominal fat are all associated with reduced rates of bowel cancer one of the biggest risk factors is having an immediate family member diagnosed with bowel cancer before 55.

If you have two or more first or second degree relatives on the same side of the family diagnosed with bowel cancer you are also at higher risk.

In these cases it’s recommended to have your first colonoscopy at the age of 50 or 10 years younger then the age your relative was diagnosed.

Family histories of multiple bowel cancers or high levels of bowel polyps are very suspicious and it’s important to talk with your family doctor or gastroenterologist to organise screening for yourself and other family members.

If you have no history of bowel cancer in your family it’s recommended to have checks of your stool for blood every 2 years from age 50. Your family doctor can help with this testing.

Bowel Cancer Can Be Caught Early

The good news is with regular screening cancers can be caught early.  Colonoscopy is an opportunity to remove polyps, the early growths that can turn cancerous.

If you are suffering with any of the following symptoms it’s important to talk with your doctor:

  • blood in the faeces bowel motions
  • mucus in bowel motions
  • diarrhoea, constipation or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely, particularly if this is a change from normal habits
  • general discomfort in the abdomen (feelings of bloating, fullness and/or cramps)
  • constant tiredness
  • weakness and paleness.

While each symptom may not necessarily indicate bowel cancer it’s vital you discuss these issues to ensure proper screening and treatment.

You can read more about bowel cancer here at Cancer Australia.

Yours in good health.

Dr George