Colorectal/Bowel Cancer


Colorectal cancer, more commonly known as bowel cancer, is the second most common type of cancer in New Zealand, as well as the second most common cause of cancer deaths. While bowel cancer usually occurs in patients over the age of 50, it can occur at any age.

Bowel cancer occurs in both the large intestine and the rectum causing a number of symptoms, including:


  • A change in bowel habit – such as an increased frequency, softer than normal bowel motions or severe constipation.
  • Signs of bleeding – this includes the presence of blood in the toilet bowl after passing a bowl motion, blood in your stools or very dark coloured stools.
  • Unexplained abdominal pain.
  • Persistent weight loss or tiredness.
  • The presence of a mass or lump in your abdomen.

If you have any of these symptoms it does not necessarily mean that you will have bowel cancer as these can occur for a number of different reasons. However, if you are experiencing any of these, it is important that you speak to your GP early on so that these can be investigated.


Screening: Those patients who have a family history of bowel cancer or are experiencing any of the symptoms described above are encouraged to speak to their GP regarding screening for bowl cancer.  


Prevention: Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight and a balanced diet are all ways to help decrease your risk of developing bowel cancer.


Important Websites: