Are you or someone you love aged 50 or over? Then you or your loved one is at higher risk of bowel cancer. Tragically, bowel cancer claims the lives of 75 Australians every week. But it doesn’t have to. A simple home test could save your life.
The faecal occult blood test (FOBT) is a simple test you can do at home. The test looks for traces of blood in a bowel motion.
It involves taking samples from two or three bowel motions using a test kit. These are analysed at a pathology laboratory. If blood is detected, further tests may be conducted.
For more information on early detection of bowel cancer:
Currently, Australians aged 50, 55, 60, 64, 65, 70, 72 and 74 are eligible for the faecal occult blood test (FOBT) free of charge through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.
You will be sent an invitation to screen from the Australian Government, which will include an FOBT kit. Simply follow the instructions and post the completed test in the envelope provided.
More age groups will be added over the next six years and by 2020 the test will be available free (once every two years) to all Australians aged 50 to 74. For more information on the National Bowel Cancer Screening program:
If you are not currently eligible for the program, you can still be tested. Your GP can request an FOBT kit. Most pathology practices bulk bill for the test.
Kits can also be obtained over the counter from some pharmacies, while some pathology services and health organisations provide online options for purchasing a kit. Cancer Councils in South Australia and Victoria also sell kits (call 13 11 20).
You should discuss the use of FOBT kits with a GP before purchasing one.
For more information on the government program: