Over 50s eligible for free, life-saving bowel cancer test

Australians who are over 50 are encouraged to participate in the free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.


The program provides a simple way to test for the presence of bowel cancer - while in the comfort of your own home.


Bowel cancer is the most common type of cancer affecting both males and females, yet it is also one of the most preventable.


The program, which is managed by the Commonwealth Department of Health, in partnership with State and Territory governments, actively recruits and screens over 50s, those deemed most at-risk of the disease, for early detection and prevention of the disease.


Eligible participants in the 50-74 year age group are sent a test kit via the post, which can be completed at home and returned via the post to a laboratory for analysis. Those returning a positive result are then advised to consult with their GP for further assessment.


Despite the ease of the test, data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that a high proportion of Australians in the age group are not taking advantage of the free test.


The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program Monitoring report 2017 showed 38.9 per cent of Australians participated in the free test meaning that nearly six out of every 10 people sent the free kit did not use it.


Of those who participated, 8.1 per cent returned a positive result and were able to seek further medical advice for testing and treatment.


People are reminded that while they may feel embarrassed or anxious about the test, which involves taking a faecal sample, early detection offers the best chance of beating this disease.


During the phased expansion of the program, kits will be sent out to more eligible people within the target group each year. By 2020, when the program is fully implemented, all eligible people aged 50-74 will receive a kit every two years.


For more information or to check when you will be invited to participate, visit the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program website or call 1800 118 868.


1 June 2017.