Screening for bowel cancer
Screening is the process of looking for polyps or cancer in people who don’t have any symptoms.
Screening is particularly important for bowel cancer, which often has no symptoms in its early stages.
It is generally recommended that people aged 50–74 have an iFOBT every two years. Finding bowel cancer early can significantly improve the chance of surviving the disease.
Through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, people aged 50 to 74 are automatically sent a free iFOBT kit. A kit can also be purchased from some pharmacies.
You complete the test at home. For more information, phone 1800 118 868 or visit health.gov.au/NCSP
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is aimed at low-risk people without symptoms of bowel cancer. If you have:
- symptoms of bowel cancer, talk to your doctor about having a colonoscopy or other tests
- another bowel condition, such as chronic inflammatory bowel disease, talk to your doctor about appropriate surveillance
- a strong family history or a genetic condition linked to bowel cancer, talk to your doctor about when you need to start iFOBTs or screening colonoscopies.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
A/Prof Craig Lynch, Colorectal Surgeon and Chair, Lower Gastrointestinal Cancer Service, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Merran Findlay, Executive Research Lead -Cancer Nutrition, and Oncology Specialist Dietitian, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW; Jackie Johnston, Palliative Care and Stomal Therapy Clinical Nurse Consultant, St Vincent’s Private Hospital, NSW; A/Prof Susan Pendlebury, Radiation Oncologist, St Vincent’s Clinic, NSW; Jan Priaulx, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; A/Prof Eva Segelov, Professor of Oncology, Monash Health and Monash University, VIC; Heather Turner, Consumer; Lynne Wolowiec, Consumer.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Dealing with the diagnosis
Common reactions to a cancer diagnosis and how to find hope
Patient rights and responsibilities
What you can reasonably expect from your health care providers
View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends