Bowel cancer – also known as colorectal cancer or colon cancer – is any cancer that affects the colon (large bowel) or rectum (back passage).
Did You Know?
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world. In 2007, bowel cancer was the second most common cancer registered and the second most common cause of death from cancer. It accounted for 14.4% of all cancer registrations and 14.7% of all deaths from cancer.
If bowel cancer is caught early, it is easier to treat. 90% of bowel cancer caught in the earliest stages is curable.
Symptoms of bowel cancer include
- a change in bowel habits;
- diarrhoea, constipation, or feeling that your bowel doesn't empty completely;
- blood in your bowel motion;
- bowel motions that are narrower than usual;
- general abdominal discomfort (frequent gas pains, bloating or cramps);
- unexplained weight loss;
Non-Māori men and women have a higher risk of developing cancer of the colon than Māori men and women.
Bowel cancer is more common in people over the age of 40 but you can get it at any age.
Bowel cancer occurs more often in people with a parent, brother, sister or child with bowel cancer, especially if they were under the age of 50 when they were diagnosed.
Scientists believe a diet high in animal fats and low in fruit and vegetable fibre may contribute to the development of bowel cancer.
Click here for a dietary guide for survivors of bowel cancer.
What Can You Do?
Go and see your GP if you recognise the symptoms above
People with close relatives who have bowel cancer may need to be checked regularly by their doctor. Contact your GP to get more information about this.