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Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer, claiming more Australian lives each year than breast, prostate or skin cancer.

Bowel cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in South Australia, however 90 per cent of bowel cancers are treatable if caught early. Through your support, Cancer Council SA is proud to deliver a range of research, prevention and support programs to help South Australians diagnosed with bowel cancer across every stage of their cancer journey.

What your donation will fund

$414,320 needed this financial year to complete this valuable work.

To learn more about the work you'll be supporting, please view the programs below that are funded in part by the Cancer Council SA Bowel Cancer Fund.


Bowel Cancer Information

Cancer Council SA is proud to fund a range of bowel cancer research projects, aiming to find new and better ways to detect and treat the disease.

Find out more about these research programs below.

Bowel cancer research programs

Professor David Watson; Flinders University

Most bowel cancer research focuses on treatment of advanced cancer; however, this has only led to small improvements in overall outcomes. In clinical practice, cancers are generally managed using a ‘one size fits all’ approach, with treatments offered according to cancer type and stage, rather than likely response.

Through the generous support of the community, we hope to find better ways of delivering care to those diagnosed with bowel and stomach cancer as well as those at a higher risk. Our research will focus on the use of mathematical models to determine if our current treatment options for bowel cancer are cost-effective and also investigate the impact of changes to treatment on safety and cost.

Changes to current treatments that meet these criteria will then be recommended for introduction into clinical practice, with the ultimate aim to improve treatment options to be more effective with better outcomes.

Dr Susan Woods; University of Adelaide

Bowel cancer is a preventable disease, with 90 per cent of bowel cancers treated effectively if caught early,  yet over 4,000 Australians still die from the disease every year. Through your support, this project focuses on finding the hidden, early cancers that are not found by current population bowel cancer screening tests. Our research combines recent technological advances to develop new tests to better detect these lesions and predict which will become killers, rapidly moving our best candidates to existing clinical cohorts for evaluation and translation to the clinic.

Our Australian research, funded by Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project, combined with support from our US-based corporate partners, will see us assess personalised treatment regimes for advanced disease using patient samples grown in a dish. If this works, this will guide therapy choice for patients, reducing unwarranted side effects and picking the treatment that will work most effectively for each patient.

We also investigate how the bacterial community in our gut is changed in cancer, and the role this plays in promoting this disease. This may lead to a probiotic supplement for high risk people to assist with bowel cancer prevention in the future.

Professor Timothy Price; SAHMRI

Colorectal (bowel) cancer (CRC) is a disease of older people, with a median age at diagnosis of 70, however survival is decreased for patients over 65 years compared to their younger counterparts. Although older people tend to have other co-morbidities that affect survival, early diagnosis and access to the most appropriate treatment makes a difference to cancer outcomes. However, evidence suggests that many older people are not being offered the optimal treatment. For older people living in regional settings, other factors (e.g. family support, travel) may further influence access to appropriate care.

Through your support, we will explore whether a patient’s age impacts on access to quality colorectal cancer treatment, as measured by a multidisciplinary team care, which is considered best practice in the treatment planning for patients with cancer.

A one-year pilot study will focus on access to, and activation of, multidisciplinary team care in regional settings where the impact of age may be exaggerated. This study will identify key variables that influence care for colorectal cancer patients. We will then finalise a survey design to establish the preferences of multidisciplinary teams for alternative treatment regimens in older cancer patients for controlled testing in metropolitan and regional hospital multidisciplinary teams across South Australia.

Dr Dan Worthley; SAHMRI

Patients with bowel cancer that has spread through to the lining of the abdomen (the peritoneum) have very few treatment options and often have very poor life expectancy. Through developments in laboratory techniques we can now take small samples of patient tumours, collected at keyhole surgery and grow them in a dish in the laboratory. This now allows us to test patient tumours for drug sensitivities in the dish before treating the patient in the clinic.

Through the generous support of the South Australian community we will be able to test living tumour cells from patients with bowel cancer in the laboratory. We hope that through this we can provide precision medical care to select the right drugs tailored to the patient and avoid the drugs that are ineffective.

A world first, the APOLLO2 trial hopes to provide the clinical ‘fingertips’ to help guide the selection of the right therapy for the right patient and then test whether this approach is feasible, practical and would be a viable option for high throughput patient care.

Dr Guillermo Gomez; Centre of Cancer Biology

As cancers progress from benign to malignant forms, the normal structure of the tissues is lost, resulting in increased stiffness of the affected organs. It is now well known that such changes in stiffness of cancer-affected organs speeds up cancer progression, resulting in invasion of the tumour cells into surrounding regions and their spread to distant sites within the body. We need sophisticated new methods to understand how the changes in the structure of cancer tissues contributes to this disease, and identify the abnormal aspects that need to be targeted by new cancer therapies. Three-dimensional (3D) cultures of normal and cancer tissues allows us to not only reproduce the architecture of normal tissues and their cancerous counterparts but also use sophisticated imaging approaches to study cancer in ways that are not possible in research animals or patients. Moreover, this approach is superior to the use of cultured cell lines, which are maintained in a two-dimensional configuration that does not fully reflect their natural environment in real tissues.

However, because of their relatively large size, imaging complex 3D tissue structures presents new challenges that can only be resolved by the use of the latest generation of lasers and microscopes that allow live imaging deep into the tissue at a very high resolution. With the generous support of Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project we will be able to study the processes that drive abnormal proliferation and invasiveness of cancers and achieve our aims of identifying new targets that can be used to improve personalised therapies against cancer.

Dr Dagmara Poprawski; Country Health SA

There are currently no cancer clinical trials offered outside of metropolitan Adelaide, meaning that patients from regional areas are required to travel in order to take part. The benefits of cancer patients participating in clinical trials are well recognised, particularly the ability to increase patient access to a full suite of therapy options including novel therapies.

Through your support, we will be able to look at the best way for patients in the South East to be recruited, treated and attend follow-up visits virtually from Mt Gambier hospital directly to sites like Flinders Medical Centre. This Teletrial model will utilise existing services, along with additional resources funded through this application, to establish regional cancer trial sites in the long term.

Even though we’re at early stages, our hope is that the tele-clinical trial model will improve trial participation rates in non-metropolitan areas and ultimately, improve patient care.

Professor Hamish Scott; University of South Australia

All diseases in humans have a genetic component, either inherited or caused by cell mutation. When I first started looking at haematological cancers such as lymphoma and leukaemia, it was thought that genetics didn’t matter. Families with more than one case were just considered ‘unlucky’. Now it is recognised that more than 10 per cent to 20 per cent of these cancers have a strong genetic component.

Through your support, we will be able to work on therapies that can address the genetic implications of some of these cancers, find better ways of treating and monitoring them, and ultimately save lives.

Professor Ian Olver; University of Adelaide

Current drug therapies can successfully prevent vomiting after chemotherapy; however, the majority of patients who undergo chemotherapy still suffer some form of nausea. Patients differ in what symptoms they label as nausea, all of which may need separate treatment.

Through your support, we will develop an App to find out what symptoms each patient reports as nausea and aim to see if we can improve it by treating each unique symptom. We will also monitor risk factors for nausea to see if we can prevent it occurring before chemotherapy treatment.

Professor Caroline Miller and Professor David Roder; SAHMRI and University of South Australia

The South Australia Clinical Cancer Registry (SACCR) consists of four hospital-based clinical cancer registries and a central coordinating unit. The clinical registries provide information on cancer stage, grade, differentiation, treatments (surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy etc.), prognostic indicators, patient outcomes and other key indicators of quality cancer care which are needed to complement population incidence registries.

Data is limited to those who are treated at participating hospitals Flinders Medical Centre, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Lyell McEwin Health Service and the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Clinical registries provide clinicians and service planners appropriate insight into current cancer trends and the impacts of changes to clinical practice and models of care on outcomes. There are over 300 data items potentially collected as defined by the South Australian minimum data set.

With the funding received through Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project and other revenues, we will be able to continue collecting South Australian cancer-related data, enabling effective public health interventions and cancer incidence monitoring through sharing this data with clinicians and service planners.

Professor Ross McKinnon; Flinders University

My wife succumbed to breast cancer when aged 40. During the 15 months she lived with cancer, she experienced major drug toxicities and many ineffective drug treatments, many of which could have been avoided with better utilisation of biological markers and a higher level of pharmaceutical care. Her experience motivated me to optimise drug treatments for future generations, ensuring that others don’t have to experience what she went through.

The ongoing support of Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project will help us develop better and more effective drugs to treat cancer. We are researching across three main areas: using indigenous knowledge and Australia’s remarkable marine biodiversity to identify new compounds with therapeutic potential in cancer and related conditions; using sophisticated statistical methods to determine if such biomarkers (biological indicators of disease) will be useful decision tools in cancer therapy; and studying the mechanisms by which cancer drugs are metabolised to determine ways to optimise drug strategies.

My message to donors is that drug discovery is difficult and challenging, but through a continuity of funding, we are getting closer to drug breakthroughs every day.

Professor Tim Hughes; University of Adelaide[NR1]

Just over a decade ago, Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) was still considered a death sentence. This research has pioneered the use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) to treat a range of cancers including CML, which was once known as one of the most devastating forms of blood cancer. Through the use of TKIs and research into individualised therapies, we have seen significant breakthroughs, with some CML patients even achieving treatment free cancer remission. This in itself is a remarkable achievement considering that previously, only one in six CML patients survived eight years after their diagnosis.

Thanks to Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project, my team has received ongoing funding to support our work since 2013. We’re currently leading a global trial of a promising new therapy for CML, with results to be released later this year. Funding from the Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project has enabled our team to lead this and other research projects in South Australia which will ultimately change lives.

Professor David Roder; University of South Australia

The primary aim of my unit is to develop more efficient and cost-effective services, especially related to cancer screening and treatment. With cancer impacting one in two Australians by the time they turn 85, our work is to benefit the whole Australian population, with the funding we receive from Cancer Council SA greatly increasing the reach of my work.

Through your support, our next step is to assist in the implementation of evidence-based health policies and evaluate their effectiveness. This work is ongoing, with a major emphasis on evaluating and improving outcomes of services for Aboriginal people. We are also working on assessing side effects of cancer therapies in order to improve the quality of life for those who survive their cancer diagnosis, and looking at service evaluation and policy development for breast and cervical screening and cancer treatment services.

Mr Andrew Stanley; SANT Datalink

South Australia has a range of data sets across health, education and social services. Once linked, data describing the health and experience of many thousands of individuals can be supplied to a researcher in a completely de-identified format. This intelligent linkage process strengthens privacy protection while giving researchers access to true population-based data relevant to many areas of research, including cancer prevalence, detection, treatment and outcomes.

Through your support, SANT DataLink is committed to contributing to a better understanding of cancer prevalence, factors contributing to this and improved treatments and outcomes for the community and individuals.

Dr Tessa Gargett; University of South Australia

Immunotherapies that stimulate the immune system to attack and kill tumours represent an exciting new era in cancer treatment. The immune system contains cells that have the unique capacity to destroy cancer; however, tumours often develop ways to ‘turn off’ these cells and escape destruction. The most successful new immunotherapies work by blocking the tumour’s method of escaping and allowing the immune system to kill cancerous cells. These therapies can be highly effective in solid tumours such as melanoma, with around 40 per cent of melanoma patients responding to therapy and some patients achieving a complete response where their tumours are eradicated. Despite these successes, approximately 60 per cent of melanoma patients do not respond. Other forms of solid cancers like brain cancers also fail to respond, and so these patients are completely missing out on these breakthrough treatments.

Through the support of Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project, we plan to extend the promise of immunotherapy to all patients. We’re testing brand new immune-based therapies specifically designed to boost the immune system in solid cancer patients. We have one clinical trial currently running at the Royal Adelaide Hospital which tests a personalised cell therapy in patients with melanoma. We will soon commence two new cell therapy clinical trials in patients with brain cancer. This project will help develop these trials and also follow patients receiving the new treatment to see how they respond, with the hope that the results can help inform treatments for all patients diagnosed with solid tumours.

Professor Tim Hughes; SAHMRI / University of Adelaide

The ACRF Centre for Integrated Cancer Systems Biology (ACRF-CICSB) will be a state-of-the art facility providing new approaches to interrogate cancer biology. This facility will be located at SAHMRI and the University of Adelaide’s newly constructed Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences (AHMS) Building (located adjacent to SAHMRI), in the newly established Adelaide BioMed City (ABMC) precinct.

South Australia has a strong national and international reputation for undertaking high quality research in cancer biology and treatment. Our translationally-focused research teams are already well supported by well-established enabling facilities located throughout Adelaide. Collectively, these facilities underpin many of the outstanding research discoveries from South Australian cancer researchers focused on understanding the intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms of cancer initiation and progression, drug sensitivity and resistance and the mechanisms of cancer metastasis.

Dr Nicola Poplawski; CALHN

This application is for a three year salary for a 0.6 FTE ASO2 data officer to assist in the data management of the Adult Genetics Unit’s KinTrak family database, improving the the opportunities for SA families to participate in familial cancer research.

When a client is referred to the AGU we collect and record family history information. The data is collated in KinTrak and clinical staff use the information to determine which cancer genes will be tested and provide an assessment of personal cancer risk.

If a genetic error is identified in a cancer gene, clinical staff use the information to manage risk notification and predictive genetic testing for current and future generations of the family; ensure relatives who do not have the genetic error avoid unnecessary cancer surveillance and provide relatives who do have the genetic error with gene specific risk management advice that lowers their cancer risk (prevention and risk reduction) and enhances detection of early stage cancer (surveillance).

Where ethically approved, research staff use the information to identify individuals/families who are eligible for recruitment to familial cancer research projects; identify individuals/families who are eligible for research or translational genetic testing and contribute data to local, national and international research initiatives relevant to familial cancer

Through support from Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project we will be able to employ a data officer to take over these tasks and also support and contribute to AGU research activity; freeing clinical staff for research activities.

In addition to funding individual research projects, Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project is proud to fund a number of travel grants, awarded to South Australian researchers across all the major research institutions. Funded through your generous donations, these grants help cover costs for researchers to travel to local, national and international events and conferences. It gives them an opportunity to talk about their research with other experts, helping them to broaden their skills and learn from leading researchers.

Cancer Council SA’s Behavioural Research Team is based at our offices at Greenhill Road. Through your support, the team conducts monitoring, applied research and evaluation to inform the development of Cancer Council SA’s cancer control programs and services. The Behavioural Research Team works closely with the Cancer Council SA Postdoctoral Fellow (Cancer Support) who is jointly based at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer. Together with two new postgraduate research students from Flinders University, they are interested in people’s knowledge, attitude, behaviours and the decisions individuals make that may lead to healthy or unhealthy behaviours in the area of cancer control, as well as research into the psychosocial impact of cancer on those directly and indirectly affected by cancer.

Bowel cancer support programs

Cancer Council 13 11 20 is a free, confidential phone and web chat service available to anyone impacted by a bowel cancer diagnosis (including bowel cancer), be it the person diagnosed, their family members, friends or loved ones. Experienced cancer nurses are there to answer cancer questions, provide support, connect people to our many other services, or just listen.

In the last year alone, Cancer Council’s dedicated 13 11 20 nurses supported more than 5,000 South Australians impacted by cancer. Through your support, Cancer Council 13 11 20 will continue to be there for all South Australians impacted by cancer, wherever they are in their cancer journey.

For regional South Australians, having to travel to Adelaide for cancer treatment (including blood cancer) can often compound the challenges associated with their diagnosis. Our Lodges at Flinders and Greenhill provide a friendly place to stay, connecting guests to a network of services including meals and shopping, transport to treatment and on-site social work support to help ease the burden of cancer.

In the last year alone, Cancer Council SA provided 30,425 nights of accommodation to 8,938 South Australians at our Lodges. Thanks to the generous support of the South Australian community, especially our fundraisers in regional areas, we are able to continue to provide this service, which acts as a home away from home for all regional South Australians travelling to Adelaide for cancer treatment.

Cancer Council SA provides free counselling, either over the phone or in person, to anyone impacted by a cancer diagnosis (including bowel cancer) and their loved ones. We work with people across all stages of their cancer experience, starting from the initial diagnosis, right throughout their treatment and beyond, ensuring that they receive the best support possible throughout their cancer journey.

Thanks to the generous support of the South Australian community, we were able to offer more than 1,800 free counselling sessions last year to South Australians impacted by cancer. Our professional counsellors can help their clients find new ways to manage stress, set personal goals, develop ways to achieve them, or find ways to talk to family and friends about their concerns.

By giving to the Cancer Council SA Bowel Cancer Fund, you’ll be helping to ensure this essential service is available to all who need it.

For some, a cancer diagnosis can cause considerable financial stress. That’s why Cancer Council SA offers one-off financial grants to eligible people to help pay household utilities, easing the financial burden of cancer (including bowel cancer).

Through the generous support of South Australians, Cancer Council SA provided more than $81,900 in financial assistance in the last year. Your donation today will help us to continue to provide this service for years to come.

When faced with a cancer diagnosis (such as blood cancer), or ongoing cancer treatment, even small tasks can seem overwhelming.  Cancer Council SA’s Practical Support Program assists South Australians impacted by cancer who have limited family support by helping out around the house.

Through the generous support of South Australians, Cancer Council SA provided more than $44,000 worth of practical support in the last year across 665 services including cleaning, gardening, child care support and general household duties. Through your support, we will be able to continue to provide this vital service into the future.

Bowel cancer prevention programs

It has been estimated that changes in smoking habits, diet, alcohol consumption, overweight and obesity status and physical activity levels could reduce the incidence of bowel cancer by approximately 50 per cent.

Thanks to your support, Cancer Council SA is able to offer a range of activities to promote the prevention and early detection of bowel cancer. These include attending events and presenting to community groups and workplaces to promote the importance of a healthy lifestyle to reduce bowel cancer risk.

We also encourage all people aged 50–74 years to complete a Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) at home every two years, using the free test kit which is sent to them in the mail through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. We also develop media and social media campaigns, particularly during awareness weeks and months which further helps to spread the word to the wider community.

Thanks to your support, Cancer Council SA has been able to partner with SA Health, Country SA PHN and Adelaide PHN to develop a new, state-wide online campaign to raise awareness about the importance of the early detection of bowel cancer.

Up to 90 per cent of bowel cancers are treatable if detected and treated early, with the campaign encouraging eligible South Australians to complete a Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) at home every two years, using the free test kit which is sent to them in the mail through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Thanks to your support, Cancer Council has been successful in lobbying the government to fund a nation-wide mass media campaign to encourage Australians to take advantage of the free bowel cancer screening test.

The campaign has already been successfully trialled in Victoria, and will have a significant impact on reducing bowel cancer incidence and mortality across the country. Through continued local support, funded by your generous donations, Cancer Council SA will be able to leverage off the program in South Australia and promote it further to regional and remote communities.

At least one third of cancer deaths in Australia are preventable, and while there are some cancer risk factors that we cannot control (such as age or family history), lifestyle has a big impact on cancer risk.

Through your support, Cancer Council SA is able to offer Cut Your Cancer Risk (CYCR) information sessions for workplaces, community, sporting and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) groups to help educate South Australians on how, through making healthy lifestyle changes, they can reduce their cancer risk.

CYCR presentations focus on prevention, cancer screening and modifiable lifestyle factors to reduce cancer risk.  We also actively seek opportunities to raise awareness of cancer risk factors through media and social media campaigns, particularly during awareness weeks and months, to give all South Australians the best chance possible of a cancer free future.