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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Am I at risk of developing bowel cancer if my mum has it?

    My Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2009. She had a portion of her bowel removed and it had spread to her lung where they removed a portion of her lung. Mum has had chemotherepy treatment. Now it was in her liver and back in lungs, They just did a radiation treatment on the liver and removed it all but it is still in her lung. Now we have found out it is in her pubic bone. She now faces radiation therepy, so I am asking what are her chances of surviving it in the bones. It has almost been 3 years of being diagnosed. She is 64 years old. Am I at risk of developing bowel cancer, I am 42.
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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

    Hi there,

    I am sorry to hear about your mum being so unwell. Obviously, when bowel cancer has spread outside the bowel wall and affected other organs and now bone, it is a very serious situation and much more difficult to treat than if it was detected in the early stages, within the bowel wall.

    Family history and age can affect your risk of developing bowel cancer. It is important that you see your GP so they can take a family history and advise you accordingly. The following information highlights those at greater risk.

    Both men and women are at risk of developing bowel cancer. The risk is greater if you -

    •are aged 50 years or over.

    •have a family history of bowel cancer.

    •have a personal history of cancer of the colon, rectum, ovary, endometrium, or breast.

    •have a history of polyps in the colon.

    •have a history of ulcerative colitis (ulcers in the lining of the large intestine) or Crohn's disease.

    •have certain hereditary conditions, such as familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC; Lynch Syndrome).

    There is emerging evidence regarding type 2 (usually non-insulin dependent) diabetes as a potential risk factor for bowel cancer, however further research is required.

    REMEMBER: You should never be told by your doctor that you are too young to have bowel cancer. Whilst bowel cancer is more common in people aged 50+, bowel cancer increasingly affects all age groups.

    If you have risk factors, do not accept ‘you’re too young to have bowel cancer' as an explanation for your symptoms - ask your doctor to be referred for further investigations.

    For more information on the screening process please visit the Bowel Cancer: Screening Page on the Bowel Cancer Australia website.

    Kind Regards,
    Bowel Cancer Australia Nurse Adviser

    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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