Participate in screening appropriate to your personal level of risk
Bowel cancer often develops without any warning signs.
Screening for bowel cancer is therefore recommended from age 50 every 1-2 years for people at average risk*, in accordance with medical guidelines.
The aim is to detect any early evidence of bowel polyps or cancer when it is easier to treat.
The BowelScreen Australia® Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) is capable of detecting small quantities of blood in the stool invisible to the naked eye.
The test looks for blood in your bowel movement, but not for bowel cancer itself.
Screening every 1 to 2 years can reduce your risk of dying from bowel cancer.
A positive result means blood has been detected in your bowel movements. If blood is detected, you should contact your GP immediately to discuss the result and obtain a referral for further investigation via colonoscopy within 30 days.
The presence of blood may be due to conditions other than cancer, such as polyps, haemorrhoids, or inflammation of the bowel, but the cause of bleeding needs to be investigated by colonoscopy. During the procedure, any polyps can be identified and removed or a diagnosis of bowel cancer confirmed.
A negative result means blood has not been detected in your samples and it is recommended that you repeat a bowel cancer screening test every 1 to 2 years. However, this does not mean that you do not have, or can never develop, bowel cancer, since some bowel cancers do not bleed or only bleed on and off. In between times, if you develop any symptoms of bowel cancer, see your GP immediately.
If detected early, around 90% of bowel cancer cases can be treated successfully.
However, fewer than 40% of bowel cancers are detected early.
*People with no symptoms, no family history, up to those with one affected first-degree relative diagnosed with bowel cancer aged 55 and over.
BowelScreen Australia® is a pharmacy-based bowel cancer awareness, education and screening program for the Australian community using an immunochemical bowel cancer screening test.
The test is clinically proven, accurate and reliable.
It does not require faecal handling or changes in diet or medication.
A health fund or Medicare rebate may be available.
BowelScreen Australia® tests come complete with full instructions, a dedicated customer helpline, and an annual reminder service.
BowelScreen Australia® bowel cancer screening tests can be obtained in any one of the following ways:
- From participating community pharmacies.
To locate your nearest participating community pharmacy visit the Pharmacy Finder webpage.
- Make a secure online purchase.
- By calling 1800 555 494 and quoting your credit card number.
Please note the test will cost $39.95, which includes the test, pathology analysis and result reporting to the participant and their nominated doctor, as well as return postage.
National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP)
The Australian Government is phasing in a national screening program across the country by 2020.
In the year people turn 50, 54, 58, 60, 62, 64, 66, 68, 70, 72 and 74 only, the Government will send you by mail a tax-payer funded faecal immunochemical screening test.
For more information about the Program phone 1800 118 868.
If you're ineligible for a free test from the Government, BowelScreen Australia® tests are available from participating community pharmacies or online or by calling 1800 555 494.