June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.
Bowel Cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in Australia after Lung Cancer. However, it is also one of the most preventable cancers. So by reducing known lifestyle factors, and by undergoing regular screening, you can reduce your risk.
Read on for part 2 of our ultimate prevention guide, and some more tips to help you live a healthier life.
What else can I do to prevent Bowel Cancer?
5. Drink in moderation
Excessive drinking has been shown to increase the risk of a number of cancers, including bowel. Once consumed, alcohol makes its way through the body, damaging the healthy cells it passes along the way.
It is recommended that if you do drink, women consume one standard drink, and men consume two standard drinks. You should also aim for at least two alcohol free days per week.
6. Know your family history
Genetics can play a big part in your risk of developing bowel cancer, with up to 20% of people with the disease also have a relative with the disease. Talk to your family about whether they’ve had any bowel abnormalities, and how old they were when they were diagnosed. If there is a strong family history, it may be beneficial to seek genetic counselling.
7. Complete the test
Testing before symptoms become present is important, because bowel cancer can develop without any early warning signs. Most bowel cancers develop slowly from pre-cancerous growths. Early detection and removal of these pre-cancerous growths prevents the development of bowel cancer. Completing the test can be done at home, if you’re between the ages of 50 – 74, through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.
If eligible, an invitation will be sent along with a testing kit to be done at home. The test will screen the bowel movement for invisible blood. If your test positive for blood, you and your GP will be notified, and a colonoscopy is recommended to investigate the cause.
Screening every 2 years can reduce your risk of dying from bowel cancer by up to 33%.