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Bowel Cancer (Fecal Occult)

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Doing a bowel cancer test has become so important it has even been a focus of government support programs as bowel cancer reaches an epidemic stage in some areas. Bowel cancer is the name for for cancer that starts in the large bowel. Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed and depending where it starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer. Small bowel cancer is rare but can still occur. Overall, around eight in every 10 people with bowel cancer will live at least one year after diagnosis and more than half will live at least another 10 years.

The tests these days are very simple and easy to use

Although very common in older people bowel cancer can also be missed in young people as it is often thought of as an older person’s disease and four out of five people who developed the illness before age 50 had no idea they could be at risk. The three most common symptoms of bowel cancer are blood in the feces, changes in bowel habit (more frequent, loose stools) and abdominal pain.

However, these symptoms are very common and most people with them don’t have bowel cancer. For example, blood in the stools can sometimes be hemorrhoids, a change in bowel habit or abdominal pain that is from food you have eaten. It's not known exactly what causes bowel cancer, but there are a number of things that can increase your risk. These include:

  • Alcohol and smoking – a high alcohol intake and smoking
  • Family history – having a close relative (mother or father, brother or sister) who developed bowel cancer below 50 years of age
  • If you have had a bowel condition like Crohn's disease or severe ulcerative colitis
  • Age – almost nine in 10 cases of bowel cancer occur in people aged 60 or over
  • Diet – a diet high in red or processed meats and low in fiber
  • Weight – people who are overweight or obese
  • Exercise – being inactive

Most people diagnosed with bowel cancer can have the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain, bloating or discomfort always brought on by eating, sometimes causing less food to be eaten and weight loss
  • Going to the toilet to relieve your bowels a lot more and passing looser stools, usually with blood on or in their stools…and/or with abdominal pain
  • Blood in the stools when there is no other reason such as hemorrhoids (pain, itching or a lump hanging down outside the back passage) Home test kits for bowel cancer are readily available these days and have saved many lives.

The Bowel Cancer test at Home:-

The tests these days are very simple and easy to use. Make sure you do a home test and see your doctor if your symptoms continue regardless of their severity or your age. The most simple to use test is a stool test where you take a small feces sample and place in a special container or envelope and have it sent to the laboratory.

If your results come back positive, your doctor will need to carry out a simple examination of your tummy and bottom to make sure you have no lumps. They may also organize a blood test to check for iron deficiency anemia (sometimes this indicates bleeding from your bowel that you hadn’t been aware of).

There is a lot of research in to the treatment of bowel cancer happening right now but the best medicine is preventative medicine and also catching it as early as possible to get the best treatment and outcome.

Bowel Cancer (Fecal Occult)

Bowel Cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers and affects all ages, although more common in people above the age of 50. The incident rate is said to be dropping due to the rise of bowel cancer screening tests.

Home Tests - FOBT or Fecal Occult Blood tests are available to do in your own home without having to visit a physician or health clinic.

Laboratory Test - Your health care provider can discuss blood tests, a colonoscopy and stool tests at your clinic. Click here for more information.

Resources and Links:-

The importance of colorectal screening: American Cancer Society www.cancer.org

Screening guidelines: American College of Gastroenterology www.gi.org

Counseling, support groups, education, financial assistance: Cancer Care www.cancercare.org

Colorectal care support group: Cancer Care www.cancercare.org

Cancer care for women: http://cancercareforwomen.org/