FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS/

What if I haven’t received a kit yet?

If you don’t get a letter or kit within 6 months of your 50th birthday, check that your Medicare details are up to date, and call 1800 627701 or go to www.health.gov.au/nbcsp to re-order one.

If it’s been more than 2 years since you received your last kit, check that your Medicare details are up to date, and call 1800 627701 or go to www.health.gov.au/nbcsp to re-order one.

Who should do the bowel screening test?

If you are between 50 and 74 years of age, you will be invited to take part in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. 

Age is the biggest risk factor for bowel cancer, so even healthy people should do the test.

The program is for both men and women who have no symptoms.

Don’t do the test if:

  • you are a woman and you have your period, or you finished your period less than 3 days ago
  • you have haemorrhoids (piles) that are bleeding
  • you have recently had a colonoscopy
  • you have blood in your urine, poo, or in the toilet bowl – talk to your GP if this happens

Why don’t I receive a bowel screen after I turn 74?

The program ends at age 74 because the risk of complications during screening follow-up procedures like colonoscopies is higher in older people.

If you are outside the program’s target age group and have concerns about bowel cancer or your bowel habits, please speak with your GP. They can advise you about other bowel screening kits available to the general public.

What’s involved with the bowel screening test?

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program test kit is simple, free and can be done in the privacy of your own home. Just collect 2 tiny samples of your poo using the kit and mail them in the reply-paid envelope to the laboratory for testing.

You will get your results after about 2 weeks.

Keep the samples in the fridge until you’re ready to go to the post office.

Put the samples in the envelope and take it to the post office as soon as you can. If it takes longer than 14 days from when you take the first sample to when the laboratory receives it, you will be sent another kit and be asked to do the test again.

It’s best not to put the envelope in a post box outside. Hand it to a person inside the post office or drop it in a post box inside the post office. Sending back the completed kit is free, so you don’t need to pay for postage.

What if I have lost my test?

If your test kit is damaged, expired or lost, phone the National Cancer Screening Register to ask for a new kit on 1800 627 701 or reorder one via the website www.health.gov.au/nbcsp

Do I need to change my diet or medication before I take the test?

No. You don’t need to change your diet or medication before collecting the samples.

How do I get the results from my test?

You should receive a letter with your test results about 2 weeks after you post your samples back. Read more about understanding your results.

Your results will also be sent to:

  • your GP or health service, if you nominated one when completing the participant details form
  • My Health Record, unless you ticked the box on your participant details form to tell us you don’t want this to happen or you have opted out of My Health Record
  • the National Cancer Screening Register

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer can develop without any symptoms. That is why it is important to screen every two years. 

Regardless of your age, speak to your GP immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Blood in your poo or in the toilet bowel.
  • A recent or persistent change in your toilet habits such as looser poos, narrow poos, severe constipation, and/or if you need to do a poo more often than usual. 
  • Unexplained tiredness or weight loss
  • Stomach pain. 

How can you lower your risk of bowel cancer?

You can lower your risk of bowel cancer by:

  • Screening every two years to help detect the early signs of bowel cancer.
  • Eating a healthy diet.
  • Being physically active for at least 30 minutes every day and sitting less. 
  • Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink. 
  • Not smoking.