Doing the test

The bowel cancer screening test is easy, quick and can be done in the comfort of your own home.

Page last updated: 02 January 2018

You will receive your screening invitation, free screening test kit and other program information through the post around the time of your birthday.

Using the screening kit

Video: Using the Home Test Kit

The home test kit includes an instruction sheet that explains how to do the test. If you would like help to understand the instructions contact the Test Kit Helpline 1800 930 998 (if you received your kit in 2017 contact 1800 738 365). They will talk to you about the test and how to do it.

A new kit was introduced in 2018, if you received your kit in 2017, you can view the instructions for that kit: Video: Using the National Bowel Cancer Screening Kit

Complete the test as soon as you can. If your test is damaged or has expired, contact the Program Information Line on 1800 118 868 and ask for a replacement kit. If you have any of the symptoms associated with bowel cancer contact your doctor.

Once you have collected your samples, send them to the pathology laboratory in the reply paid envelope provided in the kit. Remember to send back your Participant Details Form with the kit. The samples are then processed and the results sent to you, your doctor or health service and the Program Register within two weeks.

Understanding your results

The screening test result shows whether blood was found in your samples.

If blood is found in your samples, your test result will be positive and you will need to discuss the result with your doctor. Your doctor may recommend a further test to find the cause of the bleeding, usually a colonoscopy. A positive result may be due to conditions other than cancer (such as polyps, haemorrhoids or inflammation of the bowel).

More information is available in Facts about Colonoscopy.

If no blood is found in your samples, your test result will be negative and no further action is required for now. However, this does not mean that you do not have or can never develop bowel cancer, as some bowel cancers do not bleed or only bleed on and off. Tests like the one used in the Program detect up to 85 per cent of bowel cancers. This is why it is important to screen every two years and talk to your doctor immediately if you develop symptoms after getting a negative result.

In this section