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  • Guang Chen

Read this before your next National Bowel Cancer Screening test (Australia)

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

Bowel cancer consistently ranks in the top 5 cancers leading to death. More than 5000 Australians die from bowel cancer each year. The National Bowel Screening Program is available to all Australians (with an active Medicare card) every two years from the age of 50 to 74. The testing kit is mailed out to the registered Medicare address around the person's birthday.

Tip #1 - Check the expiry date on the kit before using it.

In case you don't use the kit shortly after receiving it, there is a possibility the kit may expire. Expired kits may give inaccurate results. If you find your kit has expired, you can contact the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program for a new kit to be sent to you.

Tip #2 - The best days to do the test are when you are having normal bowel motions.

The kits are designed to pick up very small traces of blood. It is best to avoid situations where blood from outside the bowel may be a problem. This includes women during menstruation or if you know you are having hemorrhoid-related bleeding.

Make sure your address is up to date with Medicare to ensure you get your kit on time.

Tip #3 - Follow the collection instructions carefully!

The test results will be most accurate if you follow the instructions. The test is designed to detect blood within faeces (poo). It is best if you swab the faeces without contamination from toilet water and urine (wee). Take the two samples on different days. Seal the containers tightly before sending. The samples can not be processed if they are not sealed properly.

Tip #4 - Make sure you store and post the samples correctly.

The kits produce the best results when they are not subjected to extremes of temperature and moisture. Store the samples in a cool and dry place (ideally in the fridge, away from food) before you mail them. Choose a cool day or undercover mailbox when mailing your samples to ensure they don't get too hot.

Tip #5 - Visit the National Bowel Cancer Screening website for more information.

The website is a great resource for additional information. It also allows you to order new kits, defer and opt of the program.

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