Patient Information

Common questions

If I have a relative with bowel cancer does that increase my risk?

One close relative such as a mother, father, sister, brother or child, increases the risk of bowel cancer two to three times. Two close relatives increases the risk eight times.

Who is most at risk of getting bowel cancer?

  • People who have already had bowel cancer or polyps.
  • People with one or more close relatives (mother, father, brother, sister or child) who have had polyps or bowel cancer.
  • People who have had extensive, long-standing inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis).

Can I catch bowel cancer?

No, bowel cancer is not catching. It is true that people who have a family history or bowel cancer are more likely to get it than people who don’t, but that doesn’t mean you can pass it on to anybody else. Nor does it mean you can catch it off anybody.

Is it possible to have blood in your stool, but not have bowel cancer?

Yes, it is quite common to have blood in your stool yet not have colon cancer. Rectal bleeding or blood in or on the stool is never normal and should not be ignored. You should see your doctor immediately.

I have noticed a change in my bowel movements - from constipation to going a couple of times a day. Could this be an indication of irritable bowel syndrome or possibly cancer?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common disorder that leads to cramps, bloating and changes in bowel habits, including constipation.  The chances are it is not cancer. However, the symptoms of bowel cancer and irritable bowel syndrome are similar, so your doctor will need to do tests
to diagnose the problem.

What are the symptoms of early bowel cancer?

In the early stages, when bowel cancer can be more easily cured, there are few, if any, symptoms. After that, these are the symptoms to look for:

  • Bleeding from the bowel. While this is the most important symptom, it does not always mean that bowel cancer is present.
  • Abdominal symptoms such as pain, bloating, weight loss or mucous in bowel motions.
  • Change in bowel habit, ranging from constipation to persistent diarrhoea.
  • Low iron levels, which can cause anaemia and tiredness.

Is bowel cancer preventable?

You can help prevent bowel cancer with regular testing. Bowel cancer almost always starts with a polyp, a small growth on the lining of the colon or rectum. Finding and removing polyps before they become cancerous will stop bowel cancer before it starts.

What types of tests are used to detect bowel cancer?

It is possible to have bowel cancer and not have any symptoms, which is why regular screening is vital. Screening can find polyps, which when removed prevent bowel cancer from developing. Even if cancer is found, regular screening means it is likely to be found in the early stages which greatly improves the chances of successful treatment. There are a number of screening methods available.

Colonoscopy Preparation

For this procedure to be effective the bowel must be clean to allow a good view of its surface. An oral preparation needs to be taken 24 hours prior to the procedure which encourages the bowel to empty its contents.

How can I reduce my risk of getting bowel cancer?
You can prevent bowel cancer with regular screening from the age of 50. The polyps generally begin to occur in your 40’s and bowel cancer in your 60’s (although both occasionally occur at younger ages).

You can also reduce your risk by:

  • Eating a healthy diet, including plenty of vegetables and fruit and a small amount of animal fat.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Not smoking
  • Reducing your intake of alcohol
  • Exercise regularly

Special Instructions

Do not drive your car, sign legal documents, drink alcohol or operate anything mechanical until the day after the procedure.

Do not wear heavy make-up, lipstick or nail polish. Do not wear any jeweller (apart from your wedding ring). Do not bring any valuables. A gown will be provided for you.
Please tell the nurse if you are taking any medications. If you are taking Aspirin, Persantin, Plavix, Iscover, Warfarin (Coumadin or Marevan) or any other aspirin products, you need to inform the nurse.

Notify us if you think you may be pregnant. If you are taking the contraceptive pill, you will need to use another form of contraception for 2 weeks.
Please tell your doctor if you suffer from diabetes or have a significant heart, chest or kidney problem.
Cease iron supplements 4 days prior to the procedure.

Glycoprep and Picoprep
Glycoprep and Picoprep are solutions taken by mouth to cleanse the bowel before an examination of the intestine.

Approved clear fluids:
Water, clear fruit juices (apple, pear & grape), jelly, Bonox, black tea/coffee, clear soups (no vegetables or meat), clear broth/bouillon, carbonated beverages, clear cordials (lemon/lime), sport drinks. NO purple or red colourings. You may have a barely sugar to suck.

It is important to maintain your fluid intake with a variety of APPROVED clear fluids.

The day before the procedure

Breakfast (before 8am):
You may have clear fluids for breakfast. Do not eat any food after breakfast, but have 2 glasses of APPROVED clear fluids

Morning Tea (10am):

  • 1-2 glasses if APPROVED clear fluids.

Lunch:

  • 2 glasses of APPROVED clear fluids.

colonoscopy

How can I reduce my risk of getting bowel cancer?
You can prevent bowel cancer with regular screening from the age of 50. The polyps generally begin to occur in your 40’s and bowel cancer in your 60’s (although both occasionally occur at younger ages).

You can also reduce your risk by:
Eating a healthy diet, including plenty of vegetables and fruit and a small amount of animal fat.
Maintaining a healthy body weight
Not smoking
Reducing your intake of alcohol
Exercise regularly

Second Opinions

Getting a second option.

Our practice policy is to encourage rather than discourage patients seeking alternative opinions particularly when major problems are envisaged (due to difficulties of diagnosis, complexities of the disease or for the patients or, potentially, from a recommended procedure).

Sydney Colorectal Associates has one or more partners who have extensive sub-specialty interests within the broad field of colorectal surgery; thus, all aspects of specialised patient care can be managed.

In addition, more complex disorders may require multiple opinions and / or discussion in multidisciplinary clinics. These can be arranged both from within and outside the group as necessary.

Quality Improvement

We look forward to welcoming you to our Practice and we encourage you to assist us in continuing to improve the service we provide by giving us your feedback. If our service is above or below what you expect, we sincerely value your comments.

Get in touch

General Enquiries

1300 553 347