Bowel cancer

At the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre we know that a cancer diagnosis is a life changing event. We also know that every cancer is different, just like every person is different. We are dedicated to supporting and guiding you throughout your care. On this page you can learn about symptoms of bowel cancer and the potential treatment pathway.

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What is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is abnormal cell growth in the bowel that usually starts in the lining of the organ. It can come after the development of growths called polyps. These are small balls of tissue that sometimes form in various parts of a person’s body, including the bowel. Bowel cancer usually affects people over the age of 50 and is often diagnosed through a colonoscopy. This involves a doctor inserting a flexible tube into the anus, allowing them to inspect the tissue in someone’s bowel. At this time they also take a small tissue sample, which is inspected under a microscope to look for signs of cancer.

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

If you have any of the following symptoms please see your doctor. These symptoms may also occur for ailments other than cancer. Your doctor will advise if you need tests and where you should go to have these tests. 


  • Changes in bowel motions such as diarrhoea or constipation
  • A change in the size of the bowel motion
  • Bloody bowel motions or blood on the toilet paper
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Pain, cramping or bloating in the belly
  • Anaemia
This information should not be used to replace medical advice.

Can I be treated at the ONJ Centre?

Once you have been diagnosed with cancer, your doctor or specialist can make a referral to the ONJ Centre for your cancer treatment. You can ask to be referred here, regardless of your insurance status or the stage of your treatment. The ONJ Centre is part of Austin Health, a leading Australian public hospital.

how to get a referral