Get checked during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in NZ. It shouldn’t be as it’s beatable and treatable if diagnosed early enough!

You can help fundraise for Bowel Cancer NZ by challenging yourself physically in June – as exercising and eating well are proven to help beat bowel cancer. Use this opportunity to keep fit over winter and raise funds for a good cause.

More information on bowel cancer

List of Bowel Cancer Symptoms. Bleeding from the bottom. Change in bowel motions/habits that come and go over several weeks. Anaemia. Severe persistent or periodic abdominal pain. A lump or mass in the abdomen. Tiredness or loss of weight for no obvious reason.Bowel cancer – also known as colorectal cancer or colon cancer – is any cancer that affects the colon (large bowel) and rectum (back passage).

Most bowel cancers start as benign innocent growths (polyps) on the wall of the bowel. Polyps are like small spots or cherries on stalks and most do not produce symptoms. Polyps are common as we get older and most polyps are not pre-cancerous.

The earlier bowel cancer is caught, the easier it is to treat. 90 percent of bowel cancer is curable if caught early!

So don’t wait if you have worrying signs or symptoms such as blood in your faeces or unusual bowel movements that continue for weeks at any age. Make an appointment to see your GP team or health provider immediately. Acting now could save your life. Symptoms can come and go, so don’t wait if you have any bowel concerns – no matter what age you are.

The disease typically affects older people – which is why the National Bowel Screening Programme is aimed at people aged 60 to 74.

You can reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer by:

  • having a healthy diet high in fruit, vegetables and fibre;
  • exercising regularly;
  • stopping smoking; and
  • maintaining a healthy body weight.

It is recommended that you should aim to engage in 30 minutes or more of physical activity everyday – in any way – to help reduce the risk of cancer.

National Bowel Screening Programme: A little kit could save your life

Hands holding part of the free bowel screening kit distributed by the National Bowel Screening Programme.Those in the 60 to 74 years age group with a birthday on an even date (2, 4, 6 etc – of the month) will receive a FREE bowel screening test kit on or near their birthday under the programme.

Screening is so important because many people would otherwise be completely unaware there might be a problem. For some people, returning their test sample could quite literally be a life-saver.

The test kit itself is about the size of a large USB stick, is easy to use and accompanied by clear instructions. It is designed to pick up tiny traces of blood in your faeces (poo) and to catch cancers before they become advanced and more difficult to treat.

Look out for the kit if you are 60 to 74 years old. Use it as soon as you receive it, attach the unique label that identifies the sample as yours and post it back straight away.

Whānau and friends also have an important part to play. Encourage anyone you know aged 60 to 74 to look out for their kit and to use and return it straight away.