Department of Health

Bowel cancer

Bowel cancer (also known as Colorectal cancer) is a collective term to describe the development of cancer cells within various areas of the bowel (appendix, intestine, colon or rectum). If not treated it can spread from the affected area to other parts of the body.

Bowel cancer is the most common registrable cancer in Australia, with over 12,500 new cases diagnosed each year. However, if detected early it is also the most curable cancer.

There are a number of factors which increase the risk of bowel cancer. They are:

  • A diet high in fat, salt and preserved foods
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Genetic history, or
  • An inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

Symptoms of bowel cancer include the following:

  • Blood in faeces, and
  • Any changes in your toilet habits.

If you are over 40 and experience any of these symptoms, then it is advised that you see your doctor.

Further information

For more information and support with bowel cancer, contact either your doctor or The Cancer Council on the information below:

The Cancer Council Australia
GPO Box 4708, Sydney NSW 2001
120 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills 2010
Phone: 02 8063 4100
Fax: 02 8063 4101
Cancer Council Helpline: 13 11 20