What is it?

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women in Australia and the second most common cause of cancer mortality (after lung cancer) representing 9% of all deaths from cancer. Approximately 6% of the population (1 in 15) will develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime.

The majority of patients with early colorectal cancer will have no symptoms and can only be detected by screening such as Faecal occult blood test (FOBT). If detected early, bowel cancer can be successfully treated in more than 90% of cases

How is it tested?

Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) is a test that detects trace amounts of blood in your bowel motions. Blood in your bowel motion may be due to cancer or other conditions, such as polyps, haemorrhoids or inflammation of the bowel. FOBT involves taking samples from two or three bowel motions using a test kit. These are analysed at a pathology laboratory, and if blood is detected, further tests may be required. You can do this test through your GP or, if eligible, through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. If your result is positive you will be asked to contact your doctor, who may recommend further tests to find out the cause of the bleeding

Symptoms associated with colorectal cancer include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Anaemia
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Altered bowel habits
  • Unexplained and unintended weight loss

If you have any of the above symptoms, contact your GP for further appropriate investigations