Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer in Australia, with around 80 people dying from the disease each week. Once you reach 50 years of age, your risk of bowel cancer increases.
Screening for bowel cancer in people who do not have any symptoms and are between 50 and 74 years helps to detect cancer early. Up to 90 per cent of bowel cancers can be successfully treated if they are detected early.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program offers free bowel cancer detection kits to eligible people between the ages of 50 and 74 years. By 2020, all eligible people between 50 and 74 years will be offered free testing every two years.
National Bowel Cancer Screening Program
The NBCSP mails a kit to eligible people after specific birthdays between the ages of 50 and 74 years. Visit the NBCSP website to find information about age eligibility. Between 2015 and 2020, more ages will be added until, by 2020, all eligible people between 50 and 74 years will be sent free test kits every two years. By 2020, around four million Australians will be offered free screening each year and this could save up to 500 lives per year.
The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends screening every one to two years for people older than 50 years who do not have symptoms or a family history of bowel cancer. The screening test offered is called an immunochemical faecal occult blood test (FOBT). You can read more here