Primary content

Bowel screening

Australia has one of the highest incidence of bowel cancer in the world.

There were 5,064 new bowel cancer cases and 1,703 deaths in NSW during 2014.

Bowel cancer is a malignant growth occurring generally in the lining of the large bowel—it is the second biggest cancer killer in both Australia and NSW. 

Find out why bowel screening is important and how you can take part in the free screening program.

Why is this screening program important?

There were 5,064 new bowel cancer cases and 1,703 deaths in NSW during 2014. Bowel cancer is common—it kills more people in NSW than prostate cancer, breast cancer or melanoma. 

If found early, 90% of bowel cancers can be successfully treated.

What are we trying to achieve?

If bowel screening participation rates in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program increased to 60% in NSW and across Australia, up to 90,000 lives could be saved from bowel cancer over the next 40 years.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program offers free screening for bowel cancer to eligible Australians.

Screening every 2 years for all people aged 50–74 will be fully implemented by the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program by 2020.

What you need to know

  • Survival rates are significantly improved when bowel cancer is detected and treated early. Bowel cancer screening saves lives—it can detect cancer before symptoms appear.
  • Know the symptoms of bowel cancer and consult your doctor if you have any concerns.
  • Understand how to reduce your risk of bowel cancer—take measures such as eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, cereals and whole grains, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active.
  • Understand more about lifestyle risk factors

Robin's bowel screening story

Encouraging more people to start screening
One in 12 people will be diagnosed with bowel cancer by age 85 - one in ten men, and one in fourteen women.

Bowel cancer is common—it kills more people in NSW than prostate cancer, breast cancer or melanoma.

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer? Read about the symptoms that you can look out for to improve your chance of early detection.

Bowel screening can detect more cancers at an earlier stage, resulting in less deaths from bowel cancer.

Free bowel screening tests will be sent every 2 years to people aged 50-74 in Australia. 'Do the test’ encourages everyone to do the test when it arrives in the post.

Couple reading about how to screen for bowel cancer

The bowel cancer screening test, known as the Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), is a simple test that you do at home before sending samples to a pathology laboratory for analysis.

Man in waiting room

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program will contact men and women aged 50-74 for a free bowel screening test.

Bowel cancer screening resources

Resources providing education on bowel cancer and bowel cancer screening to women and men from different cultural backgrounds.

Find bowel screening resources to help both health professionals and patients.

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