Bowel cancer

Most bowel cancers start as benign, non-cancerous growths called ‘polyps’ that form on the inner lining or the wall of the bowel ref=24363. These polyps may become cancerous if they are not removed. Family history is a risk factor for bowel cancer, but a lot of bowel cancers, and the deaths relating to them, are considered preventable ref=1894. Participating in bowel screening programs is very important for early detection of bowel cancer ref=26088 .

The risk of getting bowel cancer can be reduced by:

  • having a diet high in fibre, fresh fruit, and vegetables, and low in fat
  • being physically active
  • maintaining a healthy bodyweight ref=24363.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are less likely to be diagnosed with, go to hospital for, or die from bowel cancer than non-Indigenous people ref=26088. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are less likely to get screened for bowel cancer, which may contribute to their lower 5-year survival rate compared with non-Indigenous Australians.

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