In Australia around one in 19 men and one in 28 women will develop bowel cancer before the age of 75. In 2012 approximately 4,000 people died from the disease making bowel cancer the second most common cause of cancer-related death after lung cancer.

Mr Eugene Arocca, CEO of the Confederation of Motor Sport and former CEO of the North Melbourne Football Club, is a passionate supporter of bowel cancer. This year he has worked with Cancer Council Australia, Sons of the West and the Jodi Lee Foundation to promote the importance of early detection. Mr Arocca recently organised for 45 bowel cancer kits to be distributed among staff following treatment he received at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in 2014.

‘I’m incredibly grateful for the care and treatment I received at St Vincent’s Private and I implore people not to ignore the bowel cancer screening kit like I did,’ said Mr Arocca.

Colorectal surgeon Mr James Keck said bowel cancer is an eminently curable disease providing it is diagnosed early. ‘I would encourage all adults to participate in the government screening programme at ages 50, 55, 60 & 65, however, it is also essential that anyone with a family history of bowel cancer or symptoms such as rectal bleeding should see their doctor for advice and appropriate investigation,’ said Mr Keck.

Bowel cancer is a malignant growth that most commonly develops inside the large bowel, also known as colorectal cancer. Symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding
  • A change in appearance of bowel movements
  • Frequent gas pain, cramps or a feeling of fullness or bloating in the bowel or rectum.
  • A recent or persistent change in bowel habits.
  • Unexplained weightloss or feeling of tiredness (signs of anaemia)

Early detection is incredibly important given that bowel cancer is one of the most treatable cancers if found early enough. We can support early detection in our hospitals through initiating the bowel cancer screening conversation with patients/clients aged 50 and over and encouraging those of average risk to complete a bowel cancer screening test.

Bowel Cancer Australia also recommends discussing the appropriate bowel cancer screening pathway with all of our patients/clients with a personal health history or family history that increases their risk of bowel cancer.

You can decrease your risk of bowel cancer by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking.

This week is also Stomal Therapy Awareness Week. Our stomal nurses provide support on how to live with a stoma, wound care and management plus social support. Their expertise and care is essential to our patients health.

You can view more about Mr Arocca’s story in the video below.