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FAQ Frequently asked questions
What is bowel cancer?
Bowel cancer, also known as colon, rectal or colorectal cancer, occurs when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably in the intestines and/or the rectum. It is a major cause of preventable death in adult Australians.
What causes bowel (colon) cancer?
The cause of bowel cancer, as with other cancers, is due to damage to cellular DNA. This damage results in uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells, which leads to formation of a tumor. In bowel cancer, the tumor commonly starts as a benign lesion (i.e., it …
What are the symptoms of bowel (colon) cancer?
In the early stages colon cancer has no symptoms. As the cancer progresses, blood or mucus can be present in the feces and you may experience abdominal discomfort, constipation, diarrhea, weakness and fatigue.
How is bowel (colon) cancer diagnosed?
Bowel cancer is diagnosed using procedures such as a colonoscopy or laparoscopy, as well as scans such as computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
How is bowel (colon) cancer treated?
Surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and in some cases hormone therapy are used to treat bowel cancer.
Can bowel (colon) cancer be prevented?
Bowel cancer can be prevented by detecting and treating any polyps (benign tumors) found during a colonoscopy. Ways to reduce the risk of bowel cancer include eating a healthy diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in processed meat; maintaining a …
If I have inflammatory bowel disease, am I at greater risk of getting bowel (colon) cancer?
If you have inflammatory bowel disease, the prolonged inflammation of the colon puts you at increased risk of developing bowel (colon) cancer.
If there is blood in my stool do I have bowel (colon) cancer?
Blood in the stool is a common symptom of bowel (colon) cancer, but it can also be caused by many other conditions. However, if you find blood in your stool, it is important to have it properly assessed by your doctor.
What increases the chances of developing bowel (colon) cancer?
Inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, smoking and alcohol all increase your chances of developing bowel (colon) cancer, as does having a family history of it, or some rare genetic diseases.
About this article
Author: Jonathan Meddings BMedLabSc (Hons)
First answered: 13 Oct 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.3 out of 5
Votes: 1534 (Click smiley face below left to rate)
Category: Colorectal cancer