How It Works

How Bowelscan works

Rotary Bowelscan uses the same type of faecal occult blood test (FOBT) screening kits as the Australian Government’s national screening program. The test discovers blood passed from the bowel that’s invisible to the naked eye, which can be an early warning of cancer. Conducted annually, it provides a very good chance of early detection and a high probability of successful treatment.


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A simple at home test

First, you buy a Bowelscan test kit from a participating pharmacy during Bowelscan Month (May every year) for just $15. You take the kit home, take some samples according to the instructions, and then pop it in the post for free pathology testing.

Bowelscan’s Medical Coordinator later notifies you of the result, and also notifies your GP if the test is positive. Confidentiality is maintained at all times.

Remember, there are several causes of ‘hidden blood’, so if your test is positive it’s not certain that you have polyps or bowel cancer. To determine the source of the blood, your GP will refer you for a colonoscopy.

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From 2016, the test kit is even more convenient. Provided through Bowelscan partner Clinical Genomics, its long sampling brushes and greater sensitivity mean it doesn’t require any messy handling. The test is highly selective, so it doesn’t require you to alter your eating habits before using it. Plus, it doesn’t have to be taken back to the pharmacy – you just post it to Clinical Genomics for the pathology testing.

Danger begins at 40

Your risk of bowel cancer jumps significantly from age 40, and doubles every five years until 60 (when the risk starts to increase even faster). This is why Rotary recommends Bowelscan to anyone 40 or over.

Please don’t wait for symptoms

Remember, Bowelscan is for people who are not showing any signs of bowel cancer. If you have any direct family history of bowel cancer, any blood showing in bowel motions, or any recent changes in bowel habits, you should talk to your GP right away.
Waiting to see symptoms is waiting too long.
(For more about symptoms, see ‘Bowel cancer’.)

Bowelscan is a Rotary community service program, and no profit is made by either Rotary or participating pharmacies. Bowelscan is an awareness program, not a medical service. All medical services are provided by licensed general practitioners and pathologists.