Bowel cancer screening

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

There were 4,982 new bowel cancer cases and 1,837 deaths in NSW during 2020.

Bowel cancer screening

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 National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Why is this screening program important?

There were 4,982 new bowel cancer cases and 1,837 deaths in NSW during 2020. Bowel cancer is common—it kills more people in NSW than prostate cancer, breast cancer or melanoma

If detected early, bowel cancer can be successfully treated in more than 90% of cases.

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 sends out free bowel cancer screening test kits in the mail every two years to eligible Australians aged 50-74 years.

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