Change to the eligible age for bowel screening

From 1 July 2024, we are lowering the eligible starting age of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program from 50 to 45 years.

Who can screen with the program

From 1 July 2024, we are lowering the eligible screening age for the program from 50 to 45 years. 

  • Eligible people aged 45 to 49 can request their first bowel cancer screening kit be mailed to them. 
  • Eligible people aged 50 to 74 will continue to receive a bowel cancer screening kit in the mail every 2 years. 

All eligible people aged 45 to 74 can also ask their doctor about getting a kit. 

Your next test kit will automatically be mailed every 2 years after your last screening test is completed.

Aged 45 to 49 and want a kit?

Request your kit

If you are outside the age range of 45 to 74

For people outside the age range of 45 to 74, clinical guidance does not recommend a ‘one-size-fits-all’ population-scale approach to screening. Instead, clinical guidance recommends talking with your doctor about screening options. Your doctor is best placed to explain the benefits and potential harms of bowel screening in context of your individual health situation. Your doctor may recommend bowel screening available via Medicare. Bowel screening kits are also available for purchase at pharmacies or online.

Australian Government decision

As part of the 2024-25 Budget, the government announced the lowering of the eligible screening age of the program from 50 to 45. This was after carefully considering the implications for the broader health system, including the costs and flow-on effects.

Clinical practice guidelines update

In 2023, the National Health and Medical Research Council approved updates to the Clinical practice guidelines for the prevention, early detection, and management of colorectal cancer. These updates included a recommendation to lower the screening age for population bowel cancer screening from 50 to 45.

Read the updated clinical practice guidelines recommendations.

Date last updated:

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