A guide to: Bowel cancer screening
Cancer screening saves lives
Learn more about the free at-home bowel screening test
Bowel cancer screening saves lives. Screening is one of the most effective ways to detect early signs of bowel cancer.
If you put off or skipped your bowel cancer screening test during the pandemic, it’s important to catch up.
We understand you might be busy, but cancer screening could save your life. If found early, 90% of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated.
If you have received a test kit don’t leave it in a drawer. Do your test next time you go to the bathroom. If you didn’t get a kit, or yours is damaged, lost or expired, you can ask for another by filling out the National Cancer Screening Register’s reorder form.
Now is the time to tick bowel screening off your to-do list. It could save your life.
Why is bowel cancer screening important?
Bowel (or colorectal) cancer causes the second highest number of cancer deaths in Australia after lung cancer. However, around 90% of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated if detected early.
Cancer Council Australia recommends that Australians aged 50- 74 complete the free, at-home faecal occult blood test (FOBT) you receive in the mail every two years. FOBT is the most effective population screening tool for detecting early signs of bowel cancer.
Who is bowel screening for?
If you are aged 50-74, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program will send you a free bowel screening test in the mail every two years. It’s important you do it as soon as possible.
If you are not yet eligible for the program, but have symptoms, a family history or are concerned about bowel cancer, speak to your GP about your options.
It’s easy to forget or put off your bowel screening test when you’re busy. If you’re aged 50-74, you can sign up for text message or email reminders to help you tick screening off your to-do list.
How to participate
The free bowel screening test is something you do yourself easily at home. Instructions are clearly given in the pack you will receive, and your results will indicate what action, if any, you need to take.
If you have a positive result - it is important that you talk to your doctor about next steps. They may give you a referral for a colonoscopy - be sure to attend when this is scheduled by the hospital.
We understand that you may have questions about the pandemic and COVID-19. For the latest information, visit our page on cancer and COVID-19. If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor or health care provider. It is important that you talk to your doctor about a referral for a colonoscopy, and be sure to attend when this is scheduled by the hospital.
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Erik Carapetian received the bowel screening test in the mail shortly after his 50th birthday. Erik did the test straight away, even though he normally wouldn’t bother with as he was healthy, active, didn’t smoke and had no symptoms
The test came back positive and Erik’s GP sent him for a colonoscopy which detected a tumour. Erik was booked in for surgery and within a week of diagnosis the tumour had been removed and was confirmed as bowel cancer.
This simple test may have saved Erik’s life and he now encourages other Australians, especially men in their 50s, to take advantage of the free National Bowel Screening Program and do the lifesaving test.
For more information
Visit bowelcancer.org.au to find out more