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National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) aims to help detect bowel cancer early and reduce the number of Australians who die each year from the disease. Eligible people are sent a bowel cancer screening kit by mail containing a Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT). While bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting men and women, it is one of the most treatable cancers if found early.

In 2014 the Australian government announced the phased implementation of biennial bowel screening for all Australians aged 50 to 74 years between 2015 and 2020. This ensures that the Program is consistent with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) clinical guidelines which recommend screening every two years from age 50.

The NBCSP invites men and women turning 50, 55, 60, 64, 65, 70, 72 and 74 to screen for bowel cancer around the time of their eligible birthday.

  • From 2017, people turning 54, 58 and 68 years of age will be invited to participate.
  • From 2018 to 2020, people turning 52, 56, 62 and 66 years of age will be included.

Program Register

To support the Program, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program Register has been established by Medicare Australia to:

  • issue invitations and FOBT kits to eligible people
  • send a reminder letter to anyone who doesn’t complete their FOBT within 6 weeks of receiving it
  • record participants' details, screening history, FOBT test results, and any other test results, which follow as a result of a positive FOBT
  • issue reminders to people with a positive FOBT result (and to their general practitioner (GP) if nominated), where there is no record on the Program Register that they have consulted their GP or attended for the follow up tests to which they were referred.

Program supports in Queensland

General Practitioners

Program participants are encouraged to nominate their usual GP or medical practice on their participant details form, but this is not compulsory. The result of the FOBT test will be sent to the participant and to their GP, if nominated.

The role of the GP is to deliver clinically appropriate advice, services, treatment and care, and provide data on participants and their outcomes to the Program Register.

Read the information for general practitioners to find out about:

  • role of GPs
  • screening pathway
  • duty of care
  • evidence for immunochemical faecal occult blood tests (FOBTs)
  • payment arrangements.

GE Nurse Coordinators

A network of GE (Gastroenterology) Nurse Coordinators assist Program participants by ensuring access to follow up care and assisting them through the assessment colonoscopy pathway within Queensland public hospital and health services.

See GE Nurse Coordinator contact details.

Health Promotion Officers

A network of Health Promotion Officers (HPOs) are based in some areas around the state. HPOs are a key information contact for community, GPs and other health care providers about the Program.

See the local HPO contact details.

Participant Follow-Up Officers

Participant Follow-up Function (PFUF) officers encourage Program participants to progress through the screening pathway where they have received a positive FOBT result and are not recorded on the Program Register as having attended the necessary follow-up, including:

  • GP/primary health care provider appointment
  • an assessment colonoscopy or other clinically relevant assessment.

PFUF officers contact the participant and/or their health professional by mail and telephone.

Call the NBCSP Information line on 1800 118 868 if you have questions about participant follow-up.

Resources and publications

The Queensland Department of Health has a range of printed and promotional resources available free of charge.

To order or download resources, please click 'Publications’ on the OrderMax homepage, and follow the directions. If you have any questions, contact your local Health Promotion Officer.

Last updated: 22 March 2016