Bowel Screening

Bowel Screening

Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world.
Around one in 23 Australians will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime.

Bowel cancer screening participation rates among people aged 50-74 years in Sydney North Primary Health Network region (37.1%) are higher than the NSW rate (35.1%) with NSW recording the second-lowest bowel screening participation rate in Australia. Men are less likely to undertake bowel screening, in every age cohort.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) aims to continue to reduce deaths from bowel cancer by more frequently detecting pre-cancerous changes or early-stage disease. It invites eligible people starting at age 50 and continuing to age 74 (without symptoms) to screen for bowel cancer using a free, simple test at home.

One-third of positive Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) tests do not have a follow-up by the GP recorded in the National Cancer Screening Register. (This indicator reports on recorded GP follow-up consultation only, not colonoscopy which may follow in certain circumstances). Provision of information to the Register attracts payment.

The National Cancer Screening Register issues invitation kits, reminder letters and will store bowel cancer screening test results when a person has participated in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Patients not eligible for a free test under the national screening program, can still be tested.

GPs can request a FOBT, which is eligible for a Medicare benefit. Most pathology practices bulk bill for this test.

Kit availability :

  • Some pharmacies have FOBT kits available for purchase over the counter.
  • Bowelscreen Australia – purchase a test online or by phoning 1800 555 494
  • Some pathology services or health organisations also provide online options for purchasing a kit.

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