June is Beat Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world.
Roy Mulitalo says if he hadn’t had a sore back his doctors might not have picked up on his condition until much later.
People need to be tested regularly, he says.
‘‘There’s no warning and it can just come up out of nowhere. And the only real protection is early detection.
‘‘So whether it’s via their GP or a bowel cancer specialist organisation, some sort of regular testing is the only way,’’ he says.
More than 3000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year and more than 1200 die as a result.
That’s the equivalent of more than 100 New Zealanders every month and matches the combined death toll from prostate and breast cancer.
Unlike breast, cervical or prostate cancer, the bowel disease does not have a national screening programme or a public awareness campaign.
New Zealand women have the highest rate of bowel cancer in the world and Kiwi men the third highest.