Symptoms & Statistics

New Zealand has one of the highest incidences of bowel cancer in the world. Each year about 3,000 people are diagnosed with the disease and more than 1,200 will die.

The first step you can take to protect against bowel cancer is to be aware of the symptoms. And most importantly, see your GP if you are at all concerned.

  • Bleeding from the bottom (rectal bleeding) without any obvious reason. Or if you have other symptoms such as straining, soreness, lumps and achiness
  • A persistent change in bowel habit going to the toilet more often or experiencing looser stools for several weeks
  • Abdominal pain especially if severe

  • Any lumps or mass in your tummy
  • Weight loss and tiredness (a symptom of anaemia)

Even if you don’t have these symptoms you may still have bowel cancer. Find out how to order a bowel screening kit here.

John almost found out the hard way:

Lucky I checked with my doctor. I had no obvious symptoms but had my regular screening and found the cancer early enough to stop it.
- John

Statistics of bowel cancer rates in NZ

Bowel Cancer affects people of all ages

• Bowel cancer is the second highest cause of cancer-related death in NZ, 2nd to Lung cancer

• The incidence of bowel cancer in New Zealand is amongst the highest in the world 

• 3000 + New Zealanders are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year 

• 1200 + will die from bowel cancer every year

• 300 + under 50 will be diagnosed with bowel cancer each year 

• It is estimated that 1 in 18 New Zealanders will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime

Remember – While bowel cancer is more common in the 50 years + age group, bowel cancer affects people of all ages.

If you have symptoms of concern, do not accept ‘you’re too young to have bowel cancer’ as an explanation for your symptoms – ask your GP to be referred for further investigations.

Remember – if you are still concerned, you can seek a second opinion from another doctor.

There are two ways to start the process of getting checked for Bowel Cancer:

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