All Blacks Ben and Owen Franks are getting behind New Zealand's second official Bowel Cancer Awareness Week.

The brothers said a close family member affected by the disease inspired them to back the campaign that started yesterday.

"We've got a close family member going through bowel cancer. It's obviously a tough thing to go through, but can be very treatable when detected early," said Owen.

Each year bowel cancer kills more New Zealanders than prostate and breast cancers combined, with Kiwi women having the highest rate of bowel cancer in the world, and men the third highest.


This year organisers launched 'bum shorts' which will be worn by collectors across the country.

They are designed to relay the message 'don't sit on your symptoms'.

A 2008 report found that death rates from colorectal cancer could be reduced by up to 30 per cent with a national screening programme.


# Rectal bleeding without obvious reason

# A persistent change in bowel habit, especially going to the toilet more often or having looser stools for several weeks

# Abdominal pain

# A lump in your stomach

# Weight loss and tiredness