With 14,958 Australians being diagnosed with bowel cancer every year, it is the second biggest cancer killer in the country.
For those who are diagnosed, it can be a time of emotional, physical and psychological distress as they struggle to come to grips with the condition and treatment of the disease.
Colorectal surgeon Dr John Lumley, who has worked at the Wesley Hospital for more than 20 years, wants patients to know surgical treatment for bowel cancer can be minimally-invasive and highly effective, with shorter recovery times.
“When people have just had a diagnosis of bowel cancer, they are scared and frightened,” Dr Lumley said.
“It’s nice to be able to tell patients with bowel cancer that if we have a good clearance and the cancer is confined to the bowel, the cure rate is extraordinarily high. We can operate without hurting them too much, so they can get back to normal life much sooner than they could 20 years ago.”
In the lead up to World Continence Week, 20-26th of June and Red Apple Day, June 22nd, Stomal Therapy Clinical Nurse Consultant Caroline Murphy said patients with bowel cancer often needed to have a stoma bag as part of their treatment. For some patients, it takes time to come to terms with having a stoma bag, which is why the stomal therapy nurses offer counselling and education before surgery, as well as treatment and continued education afterwards.
“We see the patients throughout their journey as an inpatient at the Wesley,” she said.
“We talk to not just the patients, but their families as well. Surgery and recovery is very much a family affair so we make sure the family support is there as well.”
As well as offering comprehensive support for a broad range of issues, stomal therapy nurses offered patients the opportunity to speak to someone who had already gone through the stoma bag process.
“Some patients can feel very isolated, so we make sure they are able to talk to people who are of their own age and can understand what they are going through and how they are feeling.”
This year’s World Continence Week theme is Improve your bottom line, encouraging people to adopt healthy bladder and bowel habits to prevent and improve incontinence. The week is an initiative of the International Continence Society and is coordinated in Australia by the Continence Foundation.
For more information visit http://www.continence.org.au/
Red Apple Day is an awareness and fundraising intiative by Bowel Cancer Australia. For more information, go to bowelcanceraustralia.org.
Pictured: Wesley Stomal Therapy Nurses (from left) Kelley Dunk and Caroline Murphy.