Did you know?
- Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer affecting both women and men in Western Australia¹.
- In 2014, 739 Western Australian men and 560 Western Australian women were diagnosed with bowel cancer¹.
- Bowel cancer is also known as colorectal cancer (cancers of the colon and rectum).
Common symptoms of bowel cancer include:
- Blood in your poo or signs of bleeding (red or black blood) from your back passage, even just once
- Looser or runnier poo (diarrhoea)
- Harder poo or straining to poo (constipation)
- Pooing more often or a change in when you normally poo
- Pain or an unexplained lump or swelling of the tummy
- Tiredness or looking pale
- Unexplained weight loss, weakness, tiredness or breathlessness
- Loss of appetite.
If you have noticed any blood in your poo or signs of bleeding from your back passage, even if it was just once, it’s important to tell your doctor, clinic nurse or health worker straight away.
If you have had any of the other symptoms for more than four weeks, tell your doctor, nurse or health worker. It doesn’t mean you’ve got bowel cancer – often these symptoms turn out to be something less serious. But it’s important to tell your health professional and get checked out to be safe.
If it is bowel cancer, the earlier it’s found, the greater the chance of successful treatment.
Reduce your risk
There are lots of things you can do to reduce your risk of bowel cancer. Visit the bowel cancer page on the Cancer Council WA website for more information.
Bowel cancer myths and facts
Myth: Age doesn’t matter when it comes to bowel cancer.
Fact: More than 9 out of 10 bowel cancers are diagnosed in people aged 40 and over¹.
Myth: Bowel cancer only affects men.
Fact: Bowel cancer can affect both men and women.
Myth: I haven’t got any pain, so I haven’t got bowel cancer.
Fact: Not everybody who has bowel cancer experiences pain.
Myth: I’ve had some bleeding but it’s probably just piles.
Fact: Blood in your poo can be a symptom of bowel cancer.
Myth: I’ve been tired for a long time but it is because I work too hard.
Fact: Tiredness can be normal but unusual tiredness can be a symptom of bowel cancer.
Myth: My symptoms are just normal signs of getting older.
Fact: Getting older does cause changes, but anything unusual or long lasting should be reported to your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker.
¹ Threlfall TJ, Thompson JR (2015). Cancer incidence and mortality in Western Australia, 2014. Department of Health, Western Australia, Perth. Statistical Series Number 103.