Early disease detection could save your life

Now we are over the worst of the winter hopefully we will start to see some warmer weather and an end to some of those winter illnesses.

Below we have detailed some information regarding the early detection and screening available for some diseases:


Signs that may be related to bowel cancer:

  • Bleeding from the bottom (rectal bleeding) without obvious reason.  Other symptoms include the need to strain, soreness, lumps and itchiness.
  • A persistent change or bowel habit - constipation, needing to go to the toilet more often or looser than normal stools.
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lumps or masses felt in your tummy
  • Weight loss and tiredness (a symptom of anaemia)

Screening for bowel cancer:

  • Faecal Occult Blood test
  • Family History check



  • Signs that may indicate breast cancer:
  • New lumps in the breast.  The lump is often painless
  • A new area of thickened tissue in the breast
  • Nipple discharge
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin of the breast
  • A change in size or shape of the breast

Screening for breast cancer:

  • Regular self examination of the breasts
  • Regular mammograms for women from the age of 45 to 70 years


Signs that may indicate cervical cancer

  • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Leg pain or swelling
  • Low back pain

Screening for cervical cancer involves regular cervical smear tests for women from age 20 to 70 years of age.


Prostate cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body usually causes no symptoms.

Signs that may indicate prostate cancer:

  • Passing urine more frequently
  • Difficulty passing urine - difficulty stopping or starting.
  • Poor flow of urine
  • Needing to get up during the night more frequently to urinate.

These symptoms are usually due to the pressure on the urethra from an enlarged prostate and it is important to have any of these symptoms checked by your doctor.  There is no  regular screening  in New Zealand and no reliable tests but examination can involve a digital rectal examination and a PSA blood test.

Many of the above signs may not be related to cancer but if your are experiencing any symptoms make an appointment to see your Doctor.  Early detection is the key to earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Information sourced from Cancer Society New Zealand www.cancernz.org.nz