National Bowel Cancer Screening Program – How to do the free test

Eligible Australians aged 45 to 74 can do the free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program test. When found early, nine out of ten cases can be treated successfully. So, do the free test as soon as you get it in the mail – it could save your life.


Bowel cancer screening can save your life. When it's detected early, non-native ten cases can be treated successfully. The chance of getting bowel cancer increases with age. That's why Australians aged between 45 and 74 can screen with a free national bowel cancer screening program every two years. People have 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 labeled 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 two tiny samples from two separate tubes. Collect the two samples as close together as possible. This can be on the same day, the next day, or as soon as you can. Take one 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 doorway 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've done a poo, the next step is to open the collection tube by twisting the green cap. Drag the tip of the stick through 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. 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 Ziploc 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 Ziploc bag with the two 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 a Ziploc bag containing your two samples.

Make sure you read the checklist on the back of the envelope before sealing it on the envelope on the front, and write your name and address on the back. 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 remove from the fridge. If you do have to use an Australia Post mailbox, please post them in the cooler part of the day. Your samples will be sent to the laboratory and your results will be mailed to you in around two 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 two 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 will 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 one 809 3098.

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