Bowel cancer survivor Ray Parcell shows a Bowelscan kit as Dr Cec Doughty of East Clinic looks on with approval.
Bowel cancer survivor Ray Parcell shows a Bowelscan kit as Dr Cec Doughty of East Clinic looks on with approval. David Nielsen

The $6 test that saved Ray's life

BOWEL cancer survivor Ray Parcell owes his life to a simple testing kit that cost him $6.

The 73-year-old Ipswich man was diagnosed with the early stages of cancer two years ago after a sample he submitted through the Bowelscan program came up with a positive result.

Supported by volunteers from Rotary Clubs across the country, as well as pharmacists and doctors, the Bowelscan program involves the distribution of hundreds of stool sample kits to pharmacies, where people can buy them for $6.

Volunteers from Rotary collect the samples and take them to pathology, where they are analysed for free.

Any positive results are then forwarded to the district medical co-ordinator of the program so testing of a patient can be done.

Mr Parcell said he was one of those to return a positive result when his wife convinced him to have a test two years ago.

"I had no signs of any problem," he said.

"I was a reasonably fit person."

Inside, however, there was trouble.

A subsequent colonoscopy showed Mr Parcell had a small tumour growing in his bowel. It was successfully removed through surgery, but only because it was found early.

Bowelscan district medical co-ordinator Dr Cec Doughty said bowel cancer was inoperable once it spread to the liver.

"Anyone over the age of 40 should be having this test done once a year," Dr Doughty said.

Rotary program co-ordinator Keith Atwell said 350 kits were distributed around Ipswich last year.

"This program only runs from March through April and the cost is only $6 because Sullivan Nicolaides do the analysis for free and our volunteers do the running around," he said.

For more information on Bowelscan, visit bowelscan.org.au.

Bowel cancer

  • Bowel cancer affects one in 20 Australians, with its incidence more common in men than women
  • Age is the most common factor but family history can also provide a warning
  • The Federal Government also supplies free testing kits for people aged 55 and 65
  • Kits are available commercially for $38 each

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