Four things you should know about bowel cancer screening

Posted 3 Nov 2020.

Lifesaver toilet roll

No one looks forward to getting up close and personal with their poo, but if you are aged between 50 and 74, spending a little quality time with your "No.2" every couple of years could save your life.

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in Australia with your risk increasing significantly from the age of 50. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) helps to find cases in the early stages when people don't have any symptoms.

Here are four things you might not know about bowel cancer screening:

1. Australia is one of the lucky countries that has a free national screening program

The NBCSP is funded by the federal government and invites Aussies aged 50 to 74 to complete a bowel cancer home test kit every two years. The test will show up in your mailbox from age 50. You complete the test, which is really quick and easy, and send it back via the post to a lab. Your poo is tested for traces of invisible blood.

2. Testing can detect bowel cancer before you have any symptoms

Bowel cancer in the early stages often has no symptoms, but if left untreated, can spread to other areas of the body. If detected early, up to 90 per cent of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated. The point of the screening program is to test people who don't have symptoms but who might have some silent change happening down in the bowels of the ship, so to speak.

3. People who have used the kit once are more likely to do it again

People are often put off by the idea of doing the kit the first time, but we know that people who have done it are surprised by how easy it is - and are then more likely to do it the next time it comes in the mail. The test is actually really simple, quick, and convenient - you do it in the comfort and privacy of your own loo!

4. People are more likely to complete the test if encouraged by friends and family

This means that even if you're not aged 50-74, you can help by telling your friends and family to complete the home test kit- they might just need a gentle nudge and it could save their life!

For more information, please visit or call the Bowel Cancer Screening Program Information Line on 1800 118 868.

Found in:  News - 2020 | View all news