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About the national cancer screening programs

Bowel cancer screening

Learn more about the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and participation rates.

About bowel cancer screening

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) invites eligible people aged 50–74 to screen for bowel cancer using a free, simple at-home test. Bowel cancer screening kits are sent in the mail, to home addresses, based on the Medicare register every two years.

The test, also known as the Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), looks for traces of blood in a bowel motion that may not be visible, and could be a sign of bowel cancer. The test is for people with no symptoms and no significant family history of bowel cancer and it is free through the national program.

The NBCSP aims to reduce deaths from bowel cancer through early detection of the disease. For more information visit National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

In the related resources below, Cancer Council Victoria have developed a presentation on bowel screening, which can be used to assist in delivering presentations to the community.

Using the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program kit

In 2017-18, 42.4% of Australians who were sent the NBCSP kit participated in the program.
  • In 2016, about 59,000 Australians returned a positive screening test, or 8% of those who were screened. Of those who received a positive screening test, 68% had reported a follow-up diagnostic assessment.
  • About one in 19 men and one in 28 women will develop bowel cancer before the age of 75. The good news is that if found early, nine out of 10 cases of bowel cancer can be successfully treated.