- A new immunochemical faecal occult blood test (iFOBT) kit, and associated pathology service, was introduced into the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (the Program) from 2 January 2018.
- The Program is a population based screening program that aims to help detect bowel cancer early and reduce the number of Australians who die each year from the disease. It commenced in 2006 and has been operating now for over 10 years. Eligible people are invited by mail to complete a test kit at home and send it to the Program’s pathology laboratory for analysis. There is no cost involved. The test involves taking a tiny sample of faeces which is tested in a pathology laboratory. The test can detect tiny amounts of blood in faeces which may be a sign of cancer or polyps.
- The new kit (Eiken OC-Sensor) and associated pathology service was selected by the Department of Health through an open market tender process. The new kit is included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods and is already used widely in Australia and overseas. The new pathology provider is Sonic Healthcare Limited (Sonic).
- The previous test kit is no longer available to the Program from January 2018 as it will cease to be produced.
- The previous provider Specialist Diagnostic Services (operating as Dorevitch Pathology) continued to provide the current test kit and pathology services until 31 December 2017. Sonic commenced services from 2 January 2018 (1 January being a public holiday). Consequently, there will be no disruption of services for people to be invited through the Program. For any kits issued by Dorevitch pathology in 2017, where these are returned in 2018, they will still be tested by Dorevitch Pathology as the service provider will still be in place with the Program to test returned kits that were issued in 2017.
- The new kit sample collection method is very similar to that of the kit currently used in the Program. An Instruction Brochure will be provided to invitees with the kit, along with an updated Information Booklet. A new ‘how to do the test’ video has also been developed. The new instruction brochure, Information Booklet and video are available on the Cancer Screening website. (http://www.cancerscreening.gov.au/bowel).
- Enhancing the user-friendliness of the kit and associated consumer materials has been a key focus leading in to the implementation of the new kit. Improvements have been made drawing on the lessons learnt and feedback from Program participants, focus groups, experts, stakeholders and advisory group members. During the first year of implementation, continuous improvement of the kit will remain a key area of focus for the Department of Health and Sonic.
- Further information about the new kit is available to download:
National Bowel Cancer Screening Program – Questions and Answers (for GP’s and clinicians) (PDF 107 KB)
National Bowel Cancer Screening Program – Questions and Answers (for GP’s and clinicians) (Word 89 KB)