Bowel Cancer Screening Program

Bowel cancer is common in Australia, with 1 in 12 people developing the disease in their lifetime.  Almost 80 Australians die each week due to bowel cancer. Over 90 per cent of bowel cancers can be successfully treated if detected in its earliest stage. Screening can detect bowel cancer, but less than 40 per cent of cases are found early.

The national guidelines recommend that everyone from the age of 50 is considered to be “average risk” and should be screened for bowel cancer.

In Australia the free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program aims to reduce illness and death from bowel cancer by offering people aged 50 to 74 years a free screening test to complete in the privacy of their own home. The Program is being gradually rolled-out, with new age groups being included each year.

In 2016, Australians turning 50, 55, 60, 64, 65, 70, 72 or 74 were asked to take a test. By 2020, all Australians aged 50-74 will be invited to participate, or be contacted by the program every two years.

National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

There are many resources available free via the National Bowel Cancer Screening resource page  to assist in targeting patients in your practice including:

Cancer Council WA

Publications for patients, families and friends

GP Learning Module – CPD accredited

Cancer Council WA and RACGP have a learning module available for GPs and practice staff.

2 CPD points will be awarded for this activity available via RACGP learning site.

This activity consists of a case study. Participants will also be able to explore the different levels of risk that patients carry based on their family history and the findings of their screening tests and determine the most suitable follow up and management strategies in the short and long term. The activity also touches on a GP’s duty of care to those who participate in the NBCSP.

Waiting Room Videos promoting Bowel Screening – Stick it to Number 2

Cancer Council WA have 15 second and 30 second videos available for practices to display in their waiting rooms.  The videos are from the Stick it to Number 2 campaign.

If your practice is interested in this video for your waiting room please contact Shannon Wagner

Find Cancer Early: A Guide for General Practitioners

‘Find Cancer Early: A Guide for General Practitioners’ is a tool designed to assist WA GPs in the early diagnosis of patients with colorectal, lung, prostate and breast cancer

The GP Education webpage houses Find Cancer Early GP resources which include:

  • Find Cancer Early Guide for colorectal, lung, prostate and breast cancer.
  • Video that explains how to use the guide
  • WA Cancer Referral Directory

Australian Practice Nurse Association Resources

Guide for nurses working in general practice developed in partnership with Cancer Council WA, contains information on the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, a conversation flow chart, and a How to complete an iFOBT guide.

Nurse Learning Module – CPD accredited

eLearning module for Practice Nurses

This course provides primary health care nurses with an understanding of the risk factors and symptoms of bowel cancer, different screening tests for bowel cancer, features of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) and duty of care associated with the management of NBCSP participants.

This course was updated in 2017 with funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.

Duration: approx. 1 hour / 1 CPD hour

Cost: $99.00 inc GST / APNA Members FREE

This module is available here

More info can be found here

Pen Clinical Audit Tool Recipes

Resources to identify under-screened patients in your practice using PenCat and the CATPlus Recipe. We encourage use of top bar in your practice software to facilitate discussions with eligible patients in your practice. Identify under-screened population for bowel cancerResources to identify under-screened patients in your practice using PenCat and the CATPlus Recipe. We encourage use of top bar in your practice software to facilitate discussions with eligible patients in your practice. Identify under-screened population for bowel cancer

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Clinical Practice Guidelines

The National Health and Medical Research Council have approved the 2017 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention, Early Detection and Management of Colorectal Cancer.
These Guidelines provide information and recommendations to guide practice across the continuum of bowel cancer care including prevention, screening and diagnosis, clinical aspects of surgery, treatment, follow-up and psychosocial care.
The evidence overwhelmingly supports the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program as the best model for population screening in Australia.
The recommended strategy for population screening in Australia, directed at those of average risk of bowel cancer and without relevant symptoms, is immunochemical faecal occult blood testing every two years, starting at age 50 years and continuing to age 74 years.
Importantly, the Guidelines advise GPs to discourage over-screening using colonoscopy. Inappropriate use of colonoscopy as a screening method increases demand on hospital services and exposes patients to increased risk of harm.
The Guidelines recognise the critical role of GPs in supporting this life-saving Program. Encouragement by GPs and practice staff substantially boosts participation in screening, and can increase the Program’s effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.
This Fact Sheet for Health Professionals outlines the key changes to the Guidelines relating to the Program and how GPs can support the Program in line with the NHMRC’s evidence-based recommendations. This information is also provided on the Program’s website:
Please note that the NHMRC Clinical Practice Guidelines for Surveillance Colonoscopy are currently under review. These will focus on the appropriate use of surveillance colonoscopy in patients after removal of adenomas; curative resection for bowel cancer; and inflammatory bowel disease. It is anticipated these will be published in 2018.
Practice Assist acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the country on which we work and live and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community.

We pay our respects to them and their cultures and to Elders both past and present.