Key messages

  • Bowel cancer is Australia's second biggest cancer killer.
  • Bowel cancer often has no warning signs; screening is essential to find it early.
  • Regular screening substantially reduces your risk of bowel cancer.
  • For most people, screening for bowel cancer involves a simple, at-home bowel screening test.

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Victorian, and the second most common cause of cancer death. In 2014, 3,686 Victorians were diagnosed with bowel cancer and 1,407 died of the disease. All adults are at risk of bowel cancer and risk increases with age. Early detection of bowel cancer saves lives. Most people aged 50-74 years should do a simple, at-home bowel screening test every two years. 

National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program offers free bowel cancer screening to eligible people. By 2020, all eligible people aged 50-74 years will be sent a free, easy-to-use bowel screening kit that can be completed at home every two years. To find out if you are eligible, visit www.cancerscreening.gov.au.

The Victorian Department of Health & Human Services is responsible for the implementation of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program in Victoria, including timely access to colonoscopies for public patients, delivery of the Participant Follow-up Function, facilitating research and education for health professionals, and initiatives to improve community awareness and participation in screening.

Positive results

People with a positive result from the at-home screening test should see their doctor as soon as possible for further follow-up. The doctor will usually refer the person for further investigation, usually to colonoscopy, if deemed appropriate following a clinical assessment. 

Victoria has established a designated provider model to ensure at-home screening participants with a positive result have timely access to colonoscopy at public health services. A list of the 19 designated providers in Victoria is available below. 

Participants are provided with follow-up support through the Participant Follow-up Function (PFUF). After a positive result, the PFUF team may contact health professionals and their patients to assist and encourage participants to complete the screening pathway.

GP education series for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

This series of videos is designed to provide general practitioners with a simplified approach to the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

RACGP Quality Improvement and Continuous Professional Development points

GPs can apply for self-directed RACGP QI & CPD points through the RACGP website. Please contact your respective State QI & CPD Program Coordinator if you require assistance.

For further information or to request a certificate, please email the DHHS Screening and Cancer Prevention team at bowelscreening@dhhs.vic.gov.au.

Contact details

  • National Bowel Cancer Screening Program Information Line

    • Telephone Number:1800 118 868

Contact details

  • FOBT kit helpline

    For questions about the at-home screening kit

    • Telephone Number:1300 738 365