Preventable, Treatable and Beatable – Bowel Cancer Australia Awareness Month

By | Cancer, Lifestyle

Preventable, Treatable and Beatable

Bowel Cancer Australia Awareness month


Did you know that bowel cancer has the second highest rate of deaths in Australia? We lose more than 80 Australians every week to this disease. The good news is that is also one of the most treatable types of cancer if it is detected early. Bowel Cancer awareness month is an opportunity to talk about this disease. Here’s what you need to know about detecting bowel cancer.

Who is at risk?

Both men and women, young and old, can develop bowel cancer. Around 25 % of people with bowel cancer have a history of the disease, but that leaves 75% with no known family history of this type of cancer or hereditary risks. However, there is hope – 90% of bowel cancer can be treated successfully with early detection. That is why it is so important to participate in screening, and understand the warning signs and to get checked out if you have any concerns.

How common is bowel cancer?

The Bowel Cancer Australia website has some confronting statistics. It is one of the top 5 causes of premature death among Australians aged 45 – 74, and the seventh leading cause of death in people aged 25-44. Australians have one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world – 1 in 13 will develop the disease at some point in their life.

How does it start?

Most bowel cancers (also known as colorectal cancer) start as usually harmless growths called polyps, which form in the lining of the bowel. Some types of polyps can turn cancerous, and turn into a tumour if left to develop.

What are the warning signs?

Unfortunately, in the early stages some people have no symptoms – which makes screening for bowel cancer particularly important. However, people with bowel cancer might experience:

  • Changes to bowel movements – alternating constipation and diarrhoea, or a change in the shape or appearance of your stools (thinner than usual, for example)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anaemia (low red blood cells), weakness or weight loss
  • Blood in the stool (poo) or in the toilet
  • Pain or a lump in the anus or rectum

How do you screen for bowel cancer?

Initial screening for bowel cancer is extremely easy to do, can be done at home, and does not require any discomfort on your part. You will be given a kit called a faecal immunochemical test (FIT), which will require you to put a small amount of stool (poo) or toilet water on a card, and to send it in for testing – postage is even pre-paid. Results will be sent to you and to your GP for discussion. If there are any concerns, you may need a colonoscopy to check the health of your bowel.


If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned, particularly if they continue for more than 2 weeks, see your GP – you can click here to book.  Bowel cancer is often an easily treatable disease, and for the sake of a simple screening test it is absolutely worth having the conversation with your doctor. With education and discussion, we can see bowel cancer rates reduced in Australia and less lives affected by this disease.


It’s World Cancer Day – so let’s talk about cancer.

By | Cancer, Chronic Disease

It’s World Cancer Day – so let’s talk about cancer.

Sadly, the incidence of deaths from cancer each year is very high – at 8.2 million people. The aim of World Cancer Day (February 4) is to unite the world in the fight against cancer, in order to prevent millions of deaths each year.

What is cancer?

Cancer is an abnormal cell growth. Normally our body’s cells grow, divide and die. In a cancer this doesn’t happen in the usual way. This can form a lump called a tumour, or cause the blood of lymph fluid in the body to become abnormal.

Are there different kinds of tumours?

Yes there are. You may have heard of the term malignant and benign. A benign tumour is where the cells are confined in one location and are unable to spread throughout the body – this type of cell is not cancerous. The other type, malignant, is cancerous, as the cells are able to spread by travelling through the blood or lymph system.

How does cancer spread?

A localized cancer is one that hasn’t spread. The first spot that a cancer grows in is called the primary cancer. If cancer cells form at another site this is called a secondary cancer or a metastasis.

What kind of cancers can be screened for?

Screening is a process of working out someone’s risk of developing a particular disease. The benefit of screening, is that it can detect cancers at a very early stage. Screening looks at signs of cancer before it has developed or symptoms have started.

At a particular age, every at risk person should be screened for breast cancer, cervical cancer and bowel cancer as part of the Australian screening program.

  • Breast cancer screening is offered for women aged 50-74
  • Bowel cancer screening is also for people aged 50-74 and the test can be completed in the privacy of your home
  • Cervical screening, in the form of pap testing, is used to detect cervical cancer. All women between the age of 18 and 69 who have ever been sexually active should have regular pap tests.

In addition, people at high risk of certain cancers, such as lung cancer, can receive screening for these.

How can I reduce my cancer risk?

The major things you can do to reduce your risk of cancer are to:

  1. Maintain a healthy body weight
  2. Eat well and have an active lifestyle
  3. Limit alcohol
  4. Protect your skin from the sun and other forms of UV (such as tanning beds)
  5. Be a non-smoker and avoid second hand smoke 

What do I do if I am worried about cancer, or would like to be screened for cancer?

If you are concerned about having cancer, speak to someone, such as a GP, as soon as possible. Additionally, if you would like to be screened, you can book in with a GP who can arrange any necessary tests for you, and talk to you about any concerns you may have.


Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss cancer and/or screening –>

Skin cancer, skin checks and moles – oh my!

By | Cancer, Chronic Disease, Skin

Skin cancer, skin checks and moles – oh my! 

Why is skin cancer an issue?

  • 2/3 australians are diagnosed with skin cancer by 70!
  • More than 2000 people in Australia die from skin cancer each year and
  • The Cancer Council estimates that Australia spends more than $1 billion per year treating skin cancer, with costs increasing substantially over the past few years.

Preventing skin cancer

slip on sun-protective clothing, slop on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, slap on a broad-brimmed hat, seek shade and slide on sunglasses.

It’s just so easy to accidentally damage your skin. Even if you don’t intend to obtain a sun-tan, many Aussies often report that they have suntanned skin. This could be from very basic activities such as mowing your lawn, doing the gardening, having a barbecue, playing sports or going for a walk down the Berwick High Street! Even just passive recreation around the home can put you at risk of developing cancerous moles, if you don’t take proper steps to protect yourself.

It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about your level of risk and for advice on early detection.

How to perform a skin check on yourself

Getting to know your skin and picking up on changes is one of the keys to reducing your skin cancer risk. This is because skin cancers rarely hurt and are more frequently seen than felt.

To check your skin, do the following regularly:

  • Make sure you check your entire body as skin cancers can sometimes occur in parts of the body not exposed to the sun, for example soles of the feet, between fingers and toes and under nails.
  • Undress completely and make sure you have good light.
  • Use a mirror to check hard to see spots, like your back and scalp, or get a family member, partner or friend to check it for you.


What should you look for?

  • New spots
  • Changes to existing freckles or moles

There are three main types of skin cancer- melanoma (including nodular melanoma), basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.




  • Most deadly form of skin cancer.
  • If left untreated can spread to other parts of the body.
  • Appears as a new spot or an existing spot that changes in colour, size or shape.
  • Can appear on skin not normally exposed to the sun.


Nodular melanoma

Nodular melanoma

  • Grows quickly.
  • Looks different from common melanomas. Raised and even in colour.
  • Many are red or pink and some are brown or black.
  • They are firm to touch and dome-shaped.
  • After a while they begin to bleed and crust.

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma

  • Most common, least dangerous form of skin cancer.
  • Red, pale or pearly in colour, appears as a lump or dry, scaly area.
  • May ulcerate or fail to completely heal.
  • Grows slowly, usually on areas that are often exposed to the sun.






Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma

  • A thickened, red scaly spot that may bleed easily, crust or ulcerate.
  • Grows over some months, usually on areas often exposed to the sun.
  • More likely to occur in people over 50 years of age.




What do I do if I notice changes?

Your GP will be able to assess any moles or changes in colour to anything on your skin and advise on the next steps. Your GP may recommend that they perform a mole removal procedure, or that they take a biopsy to check whether your mole is cancerous or not.

What is a mole removal procedure?

If your doctor does recommend a procedure, these can typically be performed by your GP in the treatment room of the medical centre. Usually the appointment would go for about half an hour, and involve the GP with the help of the practice nurse making you comfortable, applying anaesthetic and then removing or taking a biopsy of the area in question. You would then return for the follow up of results, and for the doctor to continue to monitor you.

What if I don’t want to or can’t do the skin check myself?

Your GP should be more than happy to perform a skin check for you. This is typically a half hour appointment, which involves your GP assessing all areas of your skin and examining any existing moles or freckles with a device called a dermatoscope.

HealthMint offers skin checks and mole removal in our practice located near the border of Berwick, Narre Warren South and Cranbourne. If in doubt – come on in for a skin check. We’ve had many experiences where people have come in for a completely unrelated issue and our doctors have picked up and removed cancerous moles. With summer approaching, now is the perfect time to have those moles or freckles looked at, it’s just not worth the risk of leaving them unchecked![/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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