Bowel cancer on the nose

Rotary Clubs in NSW and the ACT are working with local Pharmacies to promote the vital BowelCare program.

Bowel cancer and bowels in general are not a hugely popular topic and are usually not news-worthy, however considering we all have bowels and use them every day the latest stats are on the nose and we need to promote the early intervention  

 Bowel cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in Australia and we also have the world’s highest incidence of bowel cancer.  1 in 12 peoples both men and women will be diagnosed with bowel disorders before the age of 85.

More than 75% of people who develop bowel cancer do not have a family history.  Bowel cancer often has very few symptoms and can strike at any age.  It is recommended that you start the yearly BowelCare test at age 40.

Talking "Poop" isn’t our most favourite dinner conversation however no matter how smelly the issue we as Australian need to tackle this taboo topic. BowelCare is a simple, you can purchase a kit from your local participating pharmacy, you take the test in the privacy of your own home and return the completed test kit back to your local pharmacy and you will be notified of the results via your specified GP.  

The BowelCare program is a "not for profit" project managed and supported to improve our communities health by Rotary clubs across NSW.

The program is managed locally by The Rotary Club of Galston and runs from Saturday 4th May to Saturday 1st June. BowelCare test kits cost only $10 and are available from many pharmacies, including The Glenorie Pharmacy, The Galston Healthsense Pharmacy and The Galston Village Pharmacy.

Using the BowelCare test can save your life.



BowelCare Kits are made available during March each year from local Galston and Glenorie pharmacies

This is an excellent cost effective way to check your health. It is imperative for ALL men and women over the age of 40 to have a BowelCare test EVERY YEAR. The cost per kit is $10.



BowelCare is a Rotary program developed in 1982 in New South Wales and now conducted by over 250 Rotary Clubs across Australia.

These Clubs supply approximately 150,000 test kits during their annual Colorectal Screening programs. Since BowelCare commenced, it is estimated that more than 1,000 people with bowel cancer and 5,000 with polyps have been detected.

In 1990, a National Committee comprising representatives from Rotary Districts operating BowelCare programs was established to develop and maintain protocols.

BowelCare is essentially a public awareness program seeking to increase community knowledge of bowel cancer and its symptoms. The project involves the distribution to the public of a simple and affordable test kit on which is collected small specimens of faeces for analysis.


Why Introduce a Program of this Nature?

Cancer of the bowel is the commonest internal cancer to affect men and women in western society. Over 9,000 Australians will be diagnosed as having bowel cancer this year and over 4,500 will die of the disease.

Recently published overseas controlled trials, using the BowelCare model, demonstrated up to 33% reduction in mortality from colon cancer in those individuals undergoing an annual screening program.

Some doctors hold the view that testing for occult (hidden blood) is not sufficiently adequate and permits too many false positives and false negatives. In effect, they say some people are alarmed unnecessarily by returning a positive result and, similarly, some are falsely reassured by a negative result.

Their views are respected and all BowelCare programs emphasize to participants that this is a screening program only and positive results indicate the need for further investigation.

Newspapers, radio stations and regional television stations have been supportive everywhere the program has been conducted.


Health Information

There has been a minor increase in the incidence of the disease, with no improvement in survival in the past 40 years.

There are four important characteristics of bowel cancer from a screening point of view:

The cancer begins nearly always as a non-malignant projection from the bowel wall, known as a polyp or adenomatous polyp.

The process of change from a polyp to cancer is slow - up to ten years.

Polyps and cancers bleed from time to time.

The earlier the treatment of a cancer or polyp is undertaken, the better the outcome.

The detection of unseen bleeding from the intestinal tract may provide early evidence of a polyp or cancer. This bleeding can be detected with chemical tests of bowel motions.
The most that can be achieved is to identify, by a positive result, a group within the tested community who have a higher risk of significant bowel disease and who require further investigation.

It is important therefore to keep BowelCare in perspective. It is not a specific test to detect bowel tumours. The most that can be achieved is that BowelCare can identify a bowel condition of which the participant is unaware and alert him or her to consult a doctor to determine its nature.

Further, it is strongly recommended that the test be undertaken annually.
The BowelCare program is not perfect, nor are any of the screening programs such as for cancer of the breast or cancer of cervix. Despite these imperfections, cancers are found earlier in each program and the survival rates are improved.


The BowelCare test is a simple chemical test for occult or invisible blood in the stool.  Specimens collected by participants are tested by pathologists who report to the participant's doctor in the usual way.

In all of these matters - Rotary is the facilitator - not the tester and not the medical adviser.

In its fight against bowel cancer, Rotary aims to reduce the annual total of 4,500 Australian deaths from bowel cancer, to improve not only the lifespan, but also the quality of life of those affected and the well-being of those close to the victim.



A test of this nature would normally be a confidential matter between doctor and patient. Taking the test into the public arena makes confidentiality no less desirable but more difficult to achieve.

It is important that the public is aware that every effort is being made to maintain confidentiality.