What is Colon cancer
This is a common cancer with 15000 Australians diagnosed per year with males being slightly more commonly affected than females. Approximately 90% of bowel cancers are cured if detected early. Early detection can be done by having a colonoscopy up front or having a stool test (National bowel cancer screening test or FOBT) which if positive will then progress to a colonoscopy for biopsies and confirmation. Once symptoms develop, it is often too late (to be early cancer) and cure rates are much lower or cure may not possible. The symptoms may include bowel changes in the form of diarrhea or constipation or change is size/consistency of stool, bleeding, pain and unexplained weight loss.
Majority of people with bowel cancer do not have a family history, however, family history places that particular individual at much higher risk for bowel cancer therefore screening should be considered. Family history is particularly relevant if the diagnosis of bowel cancer is under the age of 55 in a first degree relative, multiple family members having developed bowel cancer or unusual family history of bowel polyps in young family members.
Lastly, bowel cancer is very preventable if bowel polyps (which give rise to cancer) are detected and promptly removed at colonoscopy.
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