Cancer Council WA had planned to use Facebook as one of the platforms for a media campaign, deliberately using plain language to explain the symptoms of bowel, lung, prostate, breast and skin cancer for the community over 40 years and particularly in rural WA.

In the most recent statistics, in 2014 more than 12 000 Western Australians were diagnosed with cancer, the top five are bowel, breast, lung, prostate and skin. More than 4000 died due to cancer that year.

Facebook refused to post the first of the series, featuring Western Australian GPs talking about the early warning signs and symptoms because they contain "specific" personal attributes of physical/medical/mental conditions" including "bloody poo", "do you have cancer", "noticed blood in your poo"?.

Poor understanding of cancer symptoms has been one of the factors explaining the 20-30% increased chance of dying in the next 5 years of a cancer diagnosis for regional Western Australians , the media campaign was designed to increase awareness of warning signs and symptoms and the importance of early detection and treatment to improve outcomes. 

More than 67% of the people diagnosed with cancer today will still be alive in 5 years. Advances in the way cancer is diagnosed and treated has led to significant improvements in survival.

The bowel cancer symptoms to be aware of are:

- blood in your poo, or any sign of blood after a poo

- a change to your usual bowel habit, such as constipation, straining or diarrhoea

- abdominal pain or bloating

- weight loss or appetite loss that is unexplained

- signs of anaemia from blood loss, such as tiredness, weakness or breathlessness

Bowel cancer can be detected using various methods. It is best to consult your GP to discuss this. Usually a colonoscopy will be arranged, where under a light anaesthetic a flexible scope is used to examine your bowel and check for growths and cancers.

For more information, including short videos see

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