A study by Otago University and Christchurch Hospital researchers, published in the British Journal of Surgery this month, found bowel cancer increased for men under 50 by 18 percent each decade between 1995 and 2012, and by 13 percent for women of the same age.

Chelsea Halliwell could have been among them today if she had ignored a new symptom – a bit of blood on toilet paper.

The 39-year-old Christchurch mother was checked by her GP, who found nothing but referred her for a colonoscopy, paid for by Ms Halliwell’s private health insurance.

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