Grow a beard of goodness

1 December 2016: Today kicks off Bowel Cancer Australia’s Decembeard – a perfect time to let your facial hair grow (or encourage a loved one to grow a beard) to raise money for cancer research.

Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world. Each year, the disease claims 4,162 lives and is the third most common cause of cancer-related death.

Taking action is key: if detected early, more than 90 percent of bowel cancer cases can be cured.

What are the symptoms?
Not everyone experiences symptoms, especially in the early stages of bowel cancer. However common symptoms to look out for include:

  • A recent, persistent change in bowel habit
  • A change in appearance of bowel movements
  • Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding
  • Frequent pain from gas, cramps
  • A feeling that the bowel has not emptied completely
  • Unexplained anaemia
  • Rectal/anal pain or a lump in the rectum/anus
  • Abdominal pain or swelling

If you experience any of these symptoms for two weeks or more, consult your GP.

You can reduce your likelihood of getting bowel cancer by up to 75% by eating a healthy diet and doing physical exercise. Screening and monitoring is also recommended.

  • A bowel cancer screening test called a Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) can detect blood spotting in bowel movements.
  • Eat at least five daily servings (400g) of non-starchy vegetables (i.e. green, leafy vegetables, broccoli).
  • Reduce intake of red meat and avoid processed meat.
  • Limit long periods of sitting and aim for 30-60 minutes of brisk walking every day. 
  • Limit alcohol consumption to two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
  • Quit smoking.