Bowel Screening

In Australia around 90 men and women die each week from bowel cancer. Australia has one of the highest incidences of bowel cancer in the world.

Bowel cancer has the second highest mortality rate of all cancers in NSW after lung cancer; however only 34.3% of people residing in South Western Sydney are participating in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBSCP).

Early detection and treatment of bowel cancer significantly improves survival rates which is why bowel cancer screening is recommended every 2yrs for men and women aged 50 years and over. 

The role of Health Practitioners

GPs play an important role in delivering clinically appropriate advice, services, treatment and care, and provide important information including data on participants and their outcomes to the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program Register.

It is important that GPs are encouraging patients over 50 years to participate and perform the bowel cancer screening test, offering education about bowel cancer and explaining why screening is important.

If a patient receives a positive result, their GP should refer the patient on for further examination as clinically indicated. GP’s should communicate this back to the NBSCP Register, advising of a referral/non referral for colonoscopy or other bowel examination for their patient. This can be done by returning the program’s GP Assessment Form by fax or post.  Provision of information will attract a payment.

Support for General Practice

South Western Sydney PHN is working in partnership with Cancer Institute to increase participation rates in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program within the local region.

SWSPHN can work with and support general practitioners by:

  • Providing education and training on bowel screening processes
  • Assistance to support claiming of relevant MBS item numbers and utilisation of claim forms.

National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) is an Australian Government initiative, which aims to help detect bowel cancer early and reduce the number of deaths from the disease. The NBCSP currently invites men and women turning 50, 54, 58, 60, 62,  64, 66, 68, 70, 72 and 74 to screen for bowel cancer, with the aim to increase this to include further age groups so that by 2020, all Australians who hold a Medicare or Department of Veterans' Affairs card (DVA) and are aged between 50-74 years will be invited to screen every two years.

Participants are sent a free, easy to use immunochemical faecal occult blood test (iFOBT) screening kit that can be completed at home and sent back to the laboratory free of charge. Results are provided to both the individual directly, as well as to their nominated health professional. Those who receive a positive test result are advised to speak to their GP.

Update of changes to the Bowel screening kits and pathology services used under the NBCSP

The current test kits have ceased production and the new kit - The Eiken OC Sensor-Auto Sampling Bottle 3 will be implemented as at January 2, 2018.

During 2018 there will be two pathology providers supporting the program; Dorevitch Pathology (Specialist Diagnostic Services) and Sonic Healthcare.

Any Dorevitch FOBT test kits sent out in 2017 will be forwarded to Dorevitch Pathology and the Sonic (Eiken)test kits will be forwarded to Sonic.

Results: GP's can receive results electronically via HL7 format - Sonic can arrange installation (see contacts below)

Program Information Line number 1800 118 868

Sonic Test Kit Helpline for GP's and Clinicians 1800 930 998 (GP Support available 9am-6pm weekdays) to arrange installation of HL7

Sonic Test Kit Helpline for participants 1800 930 998 (7.30am-10pm business days and 9am-7pm weekends) or email:

Postage: NSW samples to be posted to 14 Giffnock Avenue, Macquarie Park NSW  2113.

Bowel Screening Register

The National Bowel Screening Register is run by the Department of Human Services and collects patient information including name, contact details, age, gender, Medicare number, test results and any other further tests done where applicable such as colonoscopy and histopathology as well as the details of the patient’s nominated health professional.

The information is used to remind patients to complete their screening test, send reminders to the patient’s nominated health professional, to ensure patient has relevant follow up and access to health services, and to collect data to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the program.


National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

Bowel Cancer Australia