Empowering Kimberley community: be bowel cancer aware

Natasha ClarkThe Kimberley Echo
Kimberley residents are urged to get possible symptoms of bowel cancer checked as early as possible.
Camera IconKimberley residents are urged to get possible symptoms of bowel cancer checked as early as possible. Credit: Natasha Clark

The Cancer Council WA is urging adults in the Kimberley region to familiarise themselves with the telltale signs of bowel cancer, as alarming statistics reveal that 25 individuals are diagnosed with bowel cancer in Western Australia every week.

Kimberley regional educational officer Amy Walker revealed how common and devastating the disease has been in the region.

“Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, was the third most common cancer in men and women in Western Australia in 2019,” she said.

Highlighting the sobering reality, she noted that in the same year, nine individuals were diagnosed with bowel cancer in the Kimberley, with three succumbing to the disease.

Ms Walker stressed the importance of early detection, underscoring that individuals in regional Australia are at a higher risk of mortality within five years post-cancer diagnosis compared to their metropolitan counterparts.

“We urge anyone in the Kimberley experiencing a symptom to visit their doctor, clinic nurse, or Aboriginal health worker,” she said.

Recognising early symptoms can be pivotal in saving lives and preventing cancer from metastasising.

Common indicators include blood in stool, persistent abdominal pain or swelling, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, or changes in bowel habits.

“People from regional WA often delay seeking medical attention when experiencing symptoms, assuming it might be due to something else,” she said.

“If you’re unsure about a possible symptom, you should make an appointment to discuss the change with your doctor, clinic nurse, or Aboriginal health worker as soon as possible.”

Bowel cancer survivor Jeff Mould from Port Hedland underlined the importance of prompt action.

“Don’t wait for screening if there is something in your body you feel isn’t right. Get it checked out,” he said.

Bowel cancer is indiscriminate and ruthless, and it is essential people be vigilant in scanning for symptoms and getting check-ups.

“Don’t let embarrassment stop you from getting your symptoms checked,” Ms Walker said.

“Your doctor is there to support you and provide confidential care.

“You have a better chance of surviving cancer and having more time with family and friends if cancer is found early.”

Early detection remains the cornerstone of effective treatment and improved outcomes.

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