National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

This program aims to reduce deaths from bowel cancer by detecting early signs of the disease. If found early, more than 90% of cases can be successfully treated. Eligible Australians aged 45 to 74 can do a free test at home every 2 years. Learn about the program and how to do the test.

Learn about the program

Understand why it’s important to have regular bowel screening tests.

Doing a bowel screening test

Find out what’s involved in doing a bowel screening test.

Understand what your result means

Learn what your bowel screening result means and what happens next.

Kit access for healthcare providers

Healthcare providers can now bulk order kits to issue to eligible patients.

From 1 July 2024, we are lowering the eligible screening age from 50 to 45. This means people aged 45 to 49 can join the program.

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

Learn more about the change

Aged 45 to 49 and want a kit? Overdue for screening, need a replacement kit or form?

Request your kit Download a participant details form

I want to

  • update my address or contact details
  • change my communication preferences (digital or mail)
  • find out when I will get my kit
  • opt out or delay my screening.

Self-serve at the National Cancer Screening Register Participant Portal, complete a webform or call 1800 627 701.

We get your address from Medicare. You can also update it on the Services Australia website or by calling 132 011.

You can now change your communication preferences (digital or mail) through the Participant Portal. Based on your selected communication preference, this is how you will receive correspondence from the NCSR.

Contact the register

3:58

(light music)

Bowel cancer screening can save your life.

When it's detected early, 9 out of 10 cases can be treated successfully.

The chance of getting bowel cancer increases from the age of 50. That's why Australians aged between 50 and 74 will receive a free test kit in the mail every two years.

People who've done the test say it's quick, clean and easier than they expected.

You'll receive an envelope in the mail that will include everything you need to do the test, including your Participant Details form, two flushable toilet liners, two labelled collection tubes, a Ziplock bag, a Reply-Paid envelope and easy-to-follow instructions.

The test is looking for invisible traces of blood in your poo, which could be a sign of cancer or a pre-cancerous growth. All you need to do is collect 2 tiny samples from 2 separate poos. Collect the 2 samples as close together as possible, this can be on the same day, the next day, or as soon as you can.

Take 1 collection tube and write your name, date of birth, and the date you are taking the sample on the white label. Place it within easy reach of the toilet. Do a wee and flush the toilet. Then take one of the flushable toilet liners and lay it over the water in the toilet bowl. This will catch your poo.

Once you have done a poo, the next step is to open the collection tube by twisting the green cap. Scrape the tip of the stick, attached to the cap, over different areas of the surface of the poo. You only need a tiny sample, smaller than a grain of rice. Put the stick back into the collection tube and click the lid shut. Shake the tube up and down several times. Make sure you don't open it again. You can now flush the toilet as normal. The toilet liner is biodegradable. Place the tube into the Ziplock bag and store it somewhere cool. A fridge is ideal, but do not freeze the sample.

When you're ready to take your next sample, repeat the process using the second collection tube. This can be on the same day, the next day, or as soon as you can. Once you're done, seal the Ziplock bag with the 2 tubes in it and put the bag in the fridge.

Now you're ready for the final step.

Fill out your Participant Details form, then put it in the Reply Paid envelope, along with the Ziplock bag containing your 2 samples. Make sure you read the checklist on the back of the envelope before sealing it. Write your name and address on the back of the envelope and sign the front.

Now all you need to do is mail the samples, within 24 hours if you can.

Postage is free.

The samples can be affected by heat, so make sure you don't leave them in a hot car or direct sunlight. For this reason, it's best if you can drop them to your local post office as soon as possible after they are removed from the fridge. If you do have to use an Australia Post mail box, please post them in the late afternoon, before 6pm.

Your samples will be sent to the laboratory and your results will be mailed to you in around 2 weeks.

If you receive a negative result, this means that no blood was found in your samples. You won't need to do anything else until your next test in 2 years' time. However, if you develop symptoms in the meantime, talk to your doctor.

If you receive a positive test result, this means that traces of blood were found in your samples. This could be due to conditions other than cancer, and it's important to make an appointment with your doctor to investigate.

If you have questions about how to do the test, call 1800 930 998.

Doing the home test kit

Bowel cancer screening can save your life. Watch the video and find out how to do the test.

Find out how to do the test

Bowel Screening Test Kit Helpline

1800 930 998

Contact the Test Kit Helpline for help doing the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program test. They will talk you through it, step by step.

Latest news

For health professionals and providers

Access kits for your patients

Find out how to bulk order and issue kits to patients during an appointment.

Your role in the program

Find out how you can support and encourage participation in the screening program.

Managing patients not suitable for the program

Find out who may not be suitable to participate in the bowel cancer screening program.

Public resources

National Bowel Cancer Screening Program – Lifesaver brochure

This brochure provides information about the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, including why it’s important to do the test, who should do the test, what the test looks for and the symptoms of bowel cancer. It also provides contact details for getting more information.

National Bowel Cancer Screening Program – Lifesaver poster

This A3 size poster encourages people to do the bowel screening test as part of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. The home test kit is free, easy to do and can detect the early signs of bowel cancer. Doing this simple test could save your life.

Health sector resources

Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra.

Date last updated:

Help us improve health.gov.au

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