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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    I’ve just been diagnosed cancer of the bowel, what is my prognosis?

    I have been diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer. I had no symptoms, apart from a bout of stomach cramps & vomiting which i thought was just a passing virus. What is my chances or surviving?
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  • Bowel Cancer Australia is the leading community-funded charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and care for everyone affected by bowel cancer. We … View Profile

    Thank you for your query.

    Unfortunately this is not an answer I am able to give you. You must speak with your treating Doctor in order to understand the complexity of your cancer and your current health status at this point in time.
    In general: The earlier bowel cancer is detected, diagnosed and treated, the better the likely prognosis. However, when bowel cancer has spread to other organs, such as the liver or lungs, many treatments can help, but a cure is more difficult.- 90% of bowel cancers detected at their earliest stage can be treated successfully.* However, currently fewer than 40% are detected early.
    - 61.8% of people diagnosed with bowel cancer survive 5 years.**
    South Australian data (Epidemiology of cancer in South Australia. Incidence, mortality and survival 1977 to 1996) has shown that 5-year survival varies with the Australian clinicopathological stage (ACPS): 88% for Stage A (confined to the bowel wall); 70% for Stage B (confined to the bowel wall), 43% for stage C (regional nodal involvement), and 7% for stage D (distant metastases).
    A 2004 American study has shown that the 5-year survival rate is around 93% for people diagnosed with Stage A bowel cancer; 82% for people diagnosed with Stage B bowel cancer; 59% for people diagnosed with Stage C bowel cancer; and 8% for people diagnosed with Stage D or metastatic bowel cancer.
    Overall, around 62% of people who have had their bowel cancer successfully removed are alive five years after their diagnosis.
    These survival statistics represent the average number of people alive five years after their diagnosis and do not represent a single persons’ chance of survival.  Talk to your specialist about your prognosis as many factors can influence your situation.
    Information taken from the Bowel Cancer Australia website
    More information on bowel cancer prognosis is available on the Bowel Cancer Australia website at Bowel Cancer: Diagnosis -
    Kind Regards,
    Bowel Cancer Australia Nurse Adviser

    *National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Guidelines for the Prevention, Early Detection and Management of Colorectal Cancer. Sydney. 2005. p.4.
    **Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Cancer Australia & Australasian Association of Cancer Registries 2008. Cancer survival and prevalence in Australia: cancers diagnosed from 1982 to 2004.  Cancer Series no. 42. Cat. no. CAN 38. Canberra: AIHW.  p.17

    Please Note: The information provided by Bowel Cancer Australia’s Nurse and Nutritionist Advisory Services is intended for Australian residents as a reference guide only.  It is not a substitute for independent professional advice and is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or disorder.
    If you believe your symptoms are consistent with those of bowel cancer or a digestive illness, please consult your doctor.
    Bowel Cancer Australia, its directors, officers or medical professionals shall not be liable to any person, company or any other body for any loss, direct or indirect or consequential on whatsoever account for any omission or negligent misstatement.

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