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Do the test

Do the test

when it comes in the post.

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Home Test kit image

What is the test?

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is sending out free bowel cancer screening tests to all Australians aged 50-74. The test will be posted to you every two years.

When will I receive a Test Kit?

Enter your date of birth to see when you’ll receive a free bowel screening kit.

How do I do the test?

The test is easy to do and can be completed at home. It includes an instruction sheet that explains how to do it.
You should complete the test as soon as you can. Once you have collected your samples, send them to the pathology laboratory in the reply paid envelope provided in the kit. Remember to send back your Participant Details Form with the sample.
The samples are then processed and the results sent to you, your doctor or health service and the Program Register within two weeks.


What is the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program?

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is a free Government initiative that aims to reduce bowel cancer deaths through early detection of the disease.

Learn more about the program
What resources are available for Indigenous communities?

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the National Bowel Cancer Screening program is low. Doctors, nurses and Aboriginal Health Workers can help encourage more people to screen.

Find resources for health professionals and communities.

Visit Indigenous bowel screening
How can I reduce my risk of bowel cancer?

There are a number of ways to reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer, including:

  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Be active and sit less
  • Eat a healthy diet

There are other risks that we cannot influence. Your risk is greater if you:

  • are aged 50 years and over – your risk increases with age
  • had an inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis
  • previously had special types of polyps, called adenomas, in the bowel
  • a significant family history of bowel cancer or polyps

Anyone with concerns about their risk of developing bowel cancer should talk to their doctor.

I’m over 74. Why won’t I be receiving a screening test?

The upper age limit of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is based on consideration of the relative risk of bowel cancer in people aged over 74, with no symptoms of the disease and the risk to these individuals associated with screening – particularly from follow-up diagnostic procedures (colonoscopy). Serious complications from colonoscopy are uncommon. Perforation of the bowel is, however, one of the potential serious complications, and the risk appears to be increased in the elderly. Despite the increasing incidence of bowel cancer with age, the benefits gained from screening in persons aged 75 to 85 who have been previously screened appear to be small compared to the risks.

If you’re aged 75 years or older, and are concerned about bowel cancer, you should talk to your doctor about the need for future screening.

If I have an existing bowel condition, should I still do the screening test?

You should talk to your doctor about whether to complete the screening test if you:

  • Have had a bowel condition in the last 12 months which is currently under treatment
  • Have recently had a colonoscopy
  • Are scheduled for a colonoscopy in the next few weeks

In these cases, it may not be necessary for you to do the test and you can opt out of the program.

I have had bowel surgery. Do I need to continue with bowel screening?

Screening checks the health of your colon. If you have a functioning colon you should continue with bowel screening. People with no functioning colon do not need to be screened.

How common is bowel cancer in Australia?

In Australia, the lifetime risk of developing bowel cancer before the age of 75 is around one in 19 for men and one in 28 for women, which is one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world.

I’m between 50-74. Why am I not receiving the free testing kit?

To receive a free testing kit a person must:

  • Have a Medicare Entitlement type of either:
    • Australian citizen
    • Migrant
  • Have a current Medicare card or be registered as a Department of Veterans Affairs’ (DVA) customer
  • Have a mailing address in Australia
  • Not be a conditional migrant
  • Not be a temporary resident
  • Not be a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement recipient
  • Be age eligible (enter your date of birth in the tool above to find out when you will receive your kit)

People who meet these criteria are automatically registered for the Program. Screening kits are sent to the address recorded by Medicare.

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