Beating bowel cancer

Every year more than 3000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer, and at least 1200 people will die from the disease, making it the second most common cancer in New Zealand.

June is Bowel Cancer Awareness month, and throughout Aotearoa people have been participating in the Move your Butt campaign to raise funds to help Kiwis beat bowel cancer. Last year’s challenge raised nearly $170,000 towards bowel cancer research, awareness, education, support and advocacy.

The disease is treatable (and often beatable) if caught early, making it essential that as many people as possible are aware of the symptoms, says the Bowel Cancer
New Zealand organisation.

“Symptoms may come and go, so don’t wait if you have any of these concerns, no matter what age you are,” says a spokesman. “See your GP right away.”
While bowel cancer is more common in the 50 years + age group, it affects people of all ages. If told that you are too young to have bowel cancer, seek a second opinion, the organisation recommends.

The National Bowel Screening Programme is available for eligible men and women, aged 60 to 74.

Bowel cancer, sometimes called colorectal cancer, is cancer in any part of the large bowel, which includes the colon and rectum, and starts with the abnormal growth of cells into lumps or tumours. Risk factors include aging, smoking tobacco, being overweight or obese, drinking alcohol, not exercising often, having Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis for more than 10 years, and a family history.

-The incidence of bowel cancer in New Zealand is oneof the highest in the world.
-More than 350 people under 50 are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year.
-Estimates are that one in every 18 New Zealanders will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime.
-Men are at increased risk of bowel cancer than women.

These may include:
-Bleeding from the bottom (rectal bleeding)
-Change of bowel motions/habits that come and go over several weeks
-Severe persistent or periodic abdominal pain
-A lump or mass in the abdomen
-Tiredness and loss of weight for no obvious reason

Numerous studies have indicated that a diet too rich in red meat and processed foods can heighten the risk of bowel cancer. To help prevent bowel cancer enjoy a wide variety of:
-Nutritious vegetables, legumes (dried beans, peas, lentils)
-Fruits and cereals (breads, rice, pasta and noodles)
-Lean meat, fish and poultry
-Milks, yoghurts and cheeses, choosing reduced fat varieties where possible.


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