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 – that's where screening comes in.
According to a 2017 study by Cancer Council Australia, screening for bowel cancer can reduce deaths from the disease by between 15% and 25%.
About the program test kit
The bowel screening test is called an immunochemical faecal occult blood test (iFOBT). It can detect tiny amounts of blood in your poo that can be a sign of bowel cancer.
Find out more about the test kit.
If the test finds blood in your poo, it doesn’t always mean you have bowel cancer. Read more about understanding your test results.
Who is eligible for the program
Since 2020, all eligible Australians between the ages of 50 and 74 are 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 4 weeks.
Learn more about the screening process.
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.
Learn about bowel health
A healthy bowel is important for your overall health. Learn more about bowel health.
Other screening programs
Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about screening for cancer.