Rotary raises awareness on bowel scans

A simple, at-home test could save your life. That's the message Illawarra Rotary clubs are hoping to spread, following the weekend launch of its annual bowel scan campaign.

At-home test kits were placed in pharmacies across the region on Saturday, a move Cancer Council Australia CEO Professor Ian Olver believes has helped identify dozens of cases of bowel cancer.

Prof Olver visited the region at the weekend to help launch the campaign, revealing organisations like Rotary had been invaluable in early diagnosis.

"These organisations have really stepped in to fill the gap and have been so critical in creating that public awareness," he said.

"Getting the message out there that this simple screening test could save a life is the most important thing, so these organisations really help to give out that public information."

Prof Oliver said bowel cancer lacked the high-profile of other diseases like breast and prostate cancer because of its "tricky" subject matter.

"I think it's a social thing, there is a distaste about bowels, people don't like to talk about it," he said.

"But we need to talk about it - the participation rate in screening is really quite low and the uptake in men is a little less than women so we need to get the message across."

Since Rotary Illawarra launched its initiative 15 years ago, almost 24,000 residents have been tested, with 414 positive results. Several of those resulted in a bowel cancer diagnosis.

Screening kits will be available for purchase at Illawarra pharmacies until April 12.

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