Bowel cancer not just 'an old person's disease'

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If you've got abdominal pain, blood in your bowel motions, or a change in bowel pattern (constipation or diarrhoea) that's lasted more than two weeks, see your GP – regardless of your age.

That's the key point the organisation wants to spread, after the release of a new survey of people diagnosed with bowel cancer before they turned 50. The survey of 200 people represents around 20 per cent of the 1100 diagnosed in this age group each year.

While bowel cancer is Australia's second biggest killer, it's a disease younger people – and even their GPs – tend not to consider when investigating symptoms, says the organisation's chief executive Julien Wiggins. That's if symptoms are noticed and acted upon at all.