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Managing a bowel cancer diagnosis

What to expect after diagnosis.

One in two Australians now living with a chronic health condition1. This month, we’re taking an in depth look at the prevalence of chronic conditions in Australia and how Aussies are affected. See more here.

Bowel cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, and the likelihood of it occurring increases with age, particularly if there’s a family history of the disease.

The good news is that it’s also one of the most treatable cancers, with a 90% chance of successful treatment if detected early on. To ensure treatment is successful, early diagnosis is key, so if you’re over the age of 50, you’re advised to attend bowel cancer screening every one to two years, which could potentially save your life.

So, what should you expect if you have been diagnosed with bowel cancer?

Get educated

There are many implications that come with a bowel cancer diagnosis. Firstly, it’s important to allow time for the news to sink in, and to ask for support from your friends and family. Next, arm yourself with all of the information you need to understand the illness, and work with your doctors to create a personal treatment plan.

Consider your emotional and financial needs

Emotionally, there may be ups and downs, or times where you need some extra support. There may be money matters to sort out, or you may need to deal with insurance claims. Treatment can be difficult and it can take a long time to recover, so it’s important to ask for help when you need it. Bowel Cancer Australia has compiled a useful list of information and support groups to turn to for any financial, emotional or practical needs you might face whilst going through diagnosis and treatment.

Maintain a healthy, active lifestyle

Coming to terms with cancer can be difficult for anyone, and the news may also impact your motivation to keep active with exercise. However, it’s important to remember that despite how hard it may be, it’s highly beneficial to stay as active as possible. Not only can physical activity provide huge mental health benefits, but research also suggests that maintaining an active lifestyle could reduce your symptoms and help improve recovery.

Life after bowel cancer

It’s normal for tests to continue for five years after a successful treatment, to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned. After this time, you may feel more confident about looking forward to the future once again. Even though some may see this as a time to celebrate, some past sufferers have found this to be an emotionally confusing time, so continue to seek support when you need it.

Get involved with the Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Bowel Cancer Australia’s annual Bowel Cancer Awareness month is a great way for people experiencing bowel cancer and survivors to get together, share stories, and help to raise awareness and funds. There are a few ways you can get involved:

If you’d like to get involved with Bowel Cancer Awareness month, visit www.bowelcancerawarenessmonth.org

1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. www.aihw.gov.au/chronic-diseases/

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