National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

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The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is an Australian Government screening program.

Bowel cancer screening is designed to check for signs of bowel cancer in people who do not have any obvious symptoms, but are at higher risk of bowel cancer because they are in the 50 or over age group.

If you have symptoms or a strong family history of bowel cancer, speak to your doctor or contact Cancer Council Victoria on 13 11 20.

The program uses a faecal occult blood test (FOBT), a simple test that you can do at home.

Who is eligible for a free test?

Currently, Australians turning 50, 54, 55, 58, 60, 64, 68, 70, 72 and 74 in 2017 will receive a free FOBT in the mail.

More age groups will be added over the next three years and by 2020, the test will be available free (once every two years) to all Australians aged 50 to 74.

Check when you will next receive an FOBT.

How do I complete the test?

When eligible, you will be sent an invitation to screen from the Australian Government, which will include an FOBT kit. Simply follow the instructions and mail the completed test in the envelope provided.

For simplified instructions, see this pictorial brochure .

What happens if I receive a positive result?

If your test is positive, you and your nominated GP will be advised. Your GP will then refer you for further investigation.

Most positive test results do not turn out to be cancer. However, if bowel cancer is diagnosed, it's twice as likely to be picked up early through the screening program and be successfully treated.

If I am not eligible, can I still have a test?

If you are not currently eligible for the program, you can still be tested. Your GP can request an FOBT kit. Most pathology practices bulk bill for the test.

Kits can also be obtained over the counter from some pharmacies, while some pathology services and health organisations provide online options for purchasing a kit.

If you are younger than 50 and concerned about bowel cancer, have a family history of bowel cancer, or have any symptoms please talk to your doctor or call Cancer Council Victoria and speak to a cancer nurse on 13 11 20.

For more information about obtaining a kit contact the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program on 1800 118 868 or visit Department of Health – National Bowel Cancer Screening Program