Bowel Cancer Screening – Our region has low levels of bowel cancer screening rates.

Bowel cancer affects young and ageing people. It is one of the top five causes of premature death among Australians aged 45-74, and the seventh leading cause of death among those aged 25-44. The risk of developing bowel cancer rises sharply and progressively from age 50, however diagnosis rates in young people have been rising steadily. 90% of bowel cancer cases can be treated effectively when detected early.

The Sydney North Health Network’s (SNHN) regional needs assessment revealed that only 1 in 4 of the target population participated in the National Bowel Cancer Screening programme in 2015. To increase screening numbers, we are asking for GP support to encourage patients to undertake screening.

Patients over 50, with no family or personal history or inherited gene mutations, need to screen every 1-2 years with a GP or using a Faecal Immunochemical Test at home (FIT). The test involves placing small samples of toilet water or stool on a special card and returning the samples in a pre-paid envelope to a laboratory. By 2020 eligible people aged between 50-74 will receive a free national screening kit in the post every two years. For more information visit the website.

Patients not eligible for the above, or who wish to screen earlier than their prescribed national screening date, can either be screened with their GP, purchase tests from participating pharmacies, through Bowel Cancer Australia by calling 1800 555 494, online or they can call the Bowel Screening Helpline on 1800 738 365.

If there is a family history of bowel cancer, extra screening is needed. This may involve the patient having a colonoscopy every five years. These patients need to see their GP for a referral.

The above information was taken from the Bowel Cancer Australia and the National Bowel Screening Programme websites. For more information you can visit Bowel Cancer Australia or Cancer Screening websites.