About the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program invites people from 50 to 74 years of age to screen for bowel cancer using a free, simple test at home. Screening can save lives by detecting the early signs of bowel cancer.

Bowel screening can save lives

Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers in Australia.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program reduces illness and death from bowel cancer by helping detect the early signs of the disease using a free, simple test that can be done at home.

Why bowel screening is important

Bowel cancer often develops without any symptoms. The cancer can grow in the bowel for years before spreading to other parts of the body.

Very small amounts of blood can leak from these growths and pass into your faeces (poo). These tiny amounts of blood are not noticeable just by looking.

The bowel screening test is called an immunochemical faecal occult blood test (iFOBT). It can detect these tiny amounts of blood in your poo.

If the test finds blood in your poo, it doesn’t always mean you have bowel cancer. Read more about understanding your test results.

Research shows that screening for bowel cancer can reduce deaths from the disease by between 15% and 25%.

Who is eligible for the program

From 2020 onwards, all eligible Australians between the ages of 50 and 74 will be invited to do the screening test every 2 years.

Find out if you’re eligible.

How the program works

    If you are aged between 50 and 74, you will get a home test kit in the mail with instructions on how to do the test.

    Once you’ve done the test, send the samples to the pathology laboratory (Sonic Healthcare) in the reply paid envelope provided.

    The samples are processed and the result is sent to you and your doctor within 2 weeks.

    Learn more about the screening process.

    Program frameworks

    The program is supported and guided by a number of frameworks and strategies. They help us deliver a program guided by research into best practices.

    Read our policy collection for more information.

    Research and evaluation

    The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) provide program data and monitoring reports on their website. These include:

    We regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the program. Read our research and evaluation reports

    Contact

    National Cancer Screening Register

    Contact the National Cancer Screening Register to update your contact details or if you have questions about either the National Bowel Cancer or National Cervical Screening Programs. You can call between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, except national public holidays, from anywhere in Australia.

    View contact

    Learn about bowel health

    A healthy bowel is important for your overall health. Learn more about bowel health.

    Other screening programs

    We also have screening programs for breast cancer and cervical cancer.

    Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about screening for cancer.

    Last updated: 
    24 September 2020

    Help us improve health.gov.au

    If you would like a response please use the enquiries form instead.