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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 around 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

$587,697 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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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 disease processes in humans have a genetic component, either inherited or acquired by somatic mutation during cell division. It is important to identify genes and mutations that cause disease, predispose families to diseases, or are acquired during disease progression as these are important diagnostic and prognostic markers. They also provide direct targets and biological pathways for therapeutic intervention.

We are interested in how and why these genetic mutations occur, how these changes cause cancer or cancer predisposition, and ways of better treating and monitoring these diseases. Our model diseases are typically, blood cell diseases, such as leukaemias, and lymphomas. Our work on rare inherited cancers with unmet clinical needs has immediate effect such as genetic diagnoses for family planning or selection of bone marrow donors.

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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 that 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 with 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.

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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, our 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.

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Professor David Roder; University of South Australia

The primary aim of our 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 our 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

Immunotherapy stimulates the immune system to attack and kill tumours. 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 (trade names Keytruda, Opdivo and Yervoy) work by blocking the tumour’s method of escaping and allowing the immune system to kill cancerous cells. These therapies can be highly effective and around 40 per cent of patients with melanoma will respond to therapy, with some patients even achieving a complete response where their tumours are eradicated.

However, despite these promising results, approximately 60 per cent of melanoma patients do not respond. Other forms of solid cancers like brain cancer 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.

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Dr Nicola Poplawski; CALHN

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.

Associate Professor Andrew Roland; Flinders University

The project undertaken through this Mid-Career Research Fellowship will address an important impasse that currently prevents cancer patients from achieving the maximum benefit from the use of a key class of anti-cancer medicines. Observational studies consistently show that the benefit achieved by using the class of anti-cancer drugs called kinase inhibitors (KIs) can be dramatically improved, in cases even doubled, by getting the right dose for each patient. Importantly, however, the evidence that comes from these studies is not strong enough to inform practice, and because of this potential value of ‘precision dosing’ for these drugs continues to go unrealised. I have already engaged, and secured funding from, leading local and international academic and pharmaceutical industry partners and established a novel, readily actionable strategy (‘ADMExosomes’) to track the impact of variability in drug exposure on the effectiveness and tolerability of a drug.

Through this fellowship I will evaluate the capacity of this strategy to efficiently generate practice changing evidence defining the value of precision dosing for KIs. Importantly, I have also already established a framework through engagement with my existing network of clinical, consumer and industry collaborators to translate the findings, where appropriate, into actionable ‘companion diagnostics’ that maximise KI effectiveness and tolerability in real world cancer patients.

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Associate Professor Caroline Miller; University of Adelaide

One in every three cancers are potentially preventable, with tobacco, overweight/obesity and dietary risk being significant risk factors. This Principal Research Fellowship will advance: a well-established program of work to address smoking; an innovative program of work in dietary risk, including over-consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages; and excess alcohol consumption.

Australians, particularly young Australians, over-consume foods and beverages which are high in fat, salt and sugar, and under consume healthy dietary elements including fruit and vegetables. This contributes to future cancer risk directly and also via obesity. Many Australians also drink alcohol at levels that increase cancer risk, with early uptake in adolescence being a recognised modifiable predictor of lifelong risky drinking.

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Professor Guy Maddern; University of Adelaide

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second biggest cancer killer in Australia and the third biggest in the world. Majority of these patients who succumb to CRC do so because the cancer spreads (metastasises) to the liver.

Currently, metastatic CRC has a survival rate of less than 30 per cent, with surgical removal of the tumour being the only available treatment.

Critically, there is a 70 per cent chance of relapse within five years post-treatment. Thus, there is an urgent need for biomarkers that will identify patients who are at risk of relapsing. This application will provide the infrastructure to generate a liver tissue-biobank containing tissue with matching clinical correlates derived from metastatic CRC patients operated at the RAH and TQEH.

This valuable resource will allow us to validate the capacity of novel tissue biomarkers previously

discovered by our group to identify patients likely to relapse shortly after surgical removal of metastatic CRC.

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.

Dr Madelé van Dyk; Flinders University

Since the discovery kinase inhibitors (KIs), a class of targeted therapy against terminal cancers, progression free survival and overall survival has greatly improved. However, TKIs undergo complex metabolism via liver enzymes (CYP3A4), which is known for its substantial variability in activity. However, no marker to identify CYP3A4 activity in patients currently exists.

Due to the wide inter-individual variability, KI concentrations have varied up to >10 fold. Despite knowing this, variability between patients are inadequately addressed and a ‘one-size fits all’ prescribing is used. This clinical issue is widely recognised but still we do not account for this variability, resulting in some patients experiencing therapeutic failure or toxicity because the dose is not enough or too much.

Therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) can address this, measuring drug concentrations and changing the dose until the patient’s concentration is in the ‘target concentration’. Based on my previous work I have shown that with the implementation of TDM, we can prolong progression free survival significantly and thus improve patient quality of life. I have also shown that patient characteristics can be used to account for this inter-individual variability. Therefore, this study will evaluate the capacity and benefit of TDM to optimise KI dosing and determine which patient characteristics can help to predict a better dose so that we can personalise treatment to each individual and maximising treatment and minimising side effects. Since the economic health benefit has never been evaluated, this study will the first to address this by performing a cost-benefit analysis.

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Professor Michael Sorich; Flinders University

The research will develop online tools that will help patients to work through difficult decisions about how and when to use an anti-cancer medicine for the treatment of cancer. It will do so by utilising innovative methods to comprehensively analyse a very large amount of data that has recently become available from both clinical studies of medicines and routine use of the medicines by patients. This analysis will allow high-quality predictions to be made regarding a patient’s specific likelihood of benefits and harms from using an anti-cancer medicine.

This research will help overcome barriers to the communication of key information and empower patients by providing doctors with a toolkit to present the treatment options and their key outcomes to the patient in a manner that is personalised to their specific circumstances and characteristics. By having this personalised information, patients can feel more confident and empowered to make the most appropriate decision for them specifically regarding their treatment and will be better prepared by having more accurate expectations for their treatment outcomes.

Additionally, the research will provide insight into the patient and disease characteristics influencing benefit and harms from treatment. These insights provide opportunities to better understand why medicines sometimes don’t work well for certain individuals and how this may be overcome.

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Dr Iain Comerford; The University of Adelaide

This project aims to identify and test the role of novel molecules in controlling movement of cells of the immune system into solid tumours. Many cancers survive by preventing immune cells that are capable of killing cancer cells from entering the tumour mass. This project takes innovative new approaches to identify molecules that control this process. In addition, we have already identified a molecule involved in this process and will test how this limits immune cell entry into tumours.

Professor Caroline Miller; The University of Adelaide

Sugary beverages contribute excess energy to the diet, cause tooth decay, obesity and diabetes. Reducing excess consumption is an international public health policy priority. However, the effects of these policies in terms of substitution with other beverages are largely unknown. This study will investigate consumers’ substitution of water, artificially-sweetened beverages and fruit juice for sugary drinks and make recommendations for public health policy.

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Dr Stephanie Reuter Lange; University of South Australia

Whilst there have been substantial improvements in the treatment of cancer, it remains that three out of 10 patients will not survive longer than five years, a result of either cancer progression or death from severe treatment-related side effects. Cancer medicines must be administered at a dose that is enough to treat the cancer, but not too much to cause toxic side effects. While this is well known, most cancer treatments are given as a “one-size-fits-all” amount. Given the large variability in response seen with many cancer medicines, this means that for the same dose some patients are likely to be under-treated and others a likely to be over-treated.

The concept of dose individualisation is tailoring the amount of drug administered to each individual patient to maximise tumour response and minimise side effects. This fellowship program will use computer-based modelling methods to identify dose individualisation strategies for best treatment practice. This will be conducted for a range of diverse projects that will illustrate the value in this approach to cancer treatment and provide a framework for determining the best use of new and existing cancer medicines.

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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.