Proposed change to the eligible age for bowel screening

The Australian Government is considering lowering the eligible starting age of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program from 50 to 45 years. For now, we will continue to send kits to eligible Australians aged 50 to 74.

Clinical practice guidelines update

The National Health and Medical Research Council recently approved updates to the Clinical practice guidelines for the prevention, early detection, and management of colorectal cancer. Updates include a recommendation to lower the entry age for population bowel cancer screening from 50 to 45.

Australian Government response

The government is carefully considering the implications of lowering the eligible starting age of the NBCSP from 50 to 45 years, including the costs and flow-on effects for the broader health system.

Until the government has considered possible changes to the NBCSP:

  • we will continue to send bowel screening kits to eligible Australians aged 50 to 74
  • people aged 45 to 49 can speak to their doctor, who can offer screening with a Medicare-funded kit. You can also purchase a private screening kit at pharmacies or online.

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.

Learn more

Read the updated clinical practice guidelines recommendations.

Date last updated:

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