Bowel cancer affects men and women, young and old.

Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world; 1 in 13 Australians will develop the disease in their lifetime.
Bowel cancer is Australia’s second deadliest cancer.

Around 30% people who develop bowel cancer have either a hereditary contribution, family history or a combination of both. The other 70% of people have no family history of the disease and no hereditary contribution.

The risk of developing bowel cancer rises sharply and progressively from age 50, but the number of Australians under age 50 diagnosed with bowel cancer has been increasingly steadily. That’s why it’s important to know the symptoms of bowel cancer and have them investigated if they persist for more than two weeks.

98% of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated when detected early.

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

During the early stages of bowel cancer, patients may have no symptoms, which is why screening is so important.
Minor changes in bowel movements, with or without rectal bleeding are also seen, but they are often ignored or attributed to haemorrhoids.
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

Visit Bowel Cancer Australia’s bowel cancer facts web page for further information.

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