Promoting Bowel Screening in General Practice

An A4 fact sheet with Program statistics and tips on how general practices can support participation in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Page last updated: 06 July 2020 (this page is generated automatically and reflects updates to other content within the website)

PDF version: Promoting Bowel Screening in General Practice (PDF 2.9 MB)

Encourage your 50–74 year old patients to do the bowel test—it could save their life.

Key Statistics

  • If found early 90% of bowel cancers can be successfully treated. In Australia only 46% of bowel cancers are found early.
  • Participation in the Program is around 41%, at this rate 59,000 lives are expected to be saved by 2040; if this rose to 60% an extra 24,800 lives could be saved.
  • Of those screened through the Program who have had a colonoscopy following a positive result 1 in 32 have had a confirmed or suspected cancer and 1 in 7 have had an adenoma detected.
  • People who screen through the Program have a lower risk of dying from bowel cancer and are more likely to have less-advanced bowel cancers diagnosed.
The chance of getting bowel cancer increases from the age of 50.

By 2020 people aged 50–74 will be sent a free kit in the mail every 2 years.

NHMRC approved Guidelines support the Program and recommend iFOBT testing every 2 years from 50–74 years for those at average risk and without symptoms. Around 95–98% of the population are at near-average risk of bowel cancer and should be screened via an iFOBT, rather than colonoscopy.

Evidence shows that a recommendation by a primary care provider is a key motivator to screen for bowel cancer with an iFOBT. You can check when an individual will receive a kit at

From 2020, 4 million people will be invited each year. If a patient nominates you on their form when they do the test, you will be sent their result.

How can you support your patients to screen?

Display information

Display brochures, flyers and posters in your practice— they can be ordered from the Program website.

Know the test and talk to your patients

Be familiar with the test used in the Program so you can explain it to patients. Demo kits can be ordered from or an instruction sheet is available on the Program website.

Understand the program

Online training modules and videos for GPs, Nurses and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health workers are available on the Program website.

Send a letter or SMS

Send a letter or SMS to 49 year olds to encourage participation when they turn 50—templates are available on the Program website.

Report to the register

Submit a GP Assessment Form for participants with a positive result and indicate whether a patient referred for colonoscopy is a Program participant. Electronic forms and referral stickers are on the Program website.
p. 1800 118 868