Program Suspension - May to November 2009
People who were provided with a free self-testing bowel cancer screening kit issued between 1 December 2008 and 8 May 2009 were provided with a new kit after investigations showed higher than expected negative results for sampling from kits issued over this period.
Recommencement of the National Bowel Cancer Screening ProgramOn 11 May 2009, invitations to participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (the Program) were temporarily suspended after problems were found in the buffer of the faecal occult blood test (FOBT) kits that were distributed in the Program from 1 December 2008 to 8 May 2009. The role of the buffer is to maintain haemoglobin, a component of blood in the sample. The buffer in the FOBT kit issued in this time broke down along with any haemoglobin when exposed to high temperatures. As a result the FOBT kit returned a lower than expected rate of positive results so that some participants may have received false negative results.
On 2 November 2009 the Program recommenced. Around 600,000 new FOBT kits have been issued to people affected by the suspension of the Program. The full rollout was completed by June 2010.
To continue to meet the Government’s commitment to offering bowel cancer screening to eligible Australians, those people who were scheduled to receive a FOBT kit between 1 July 2009 and 31 December 2010 were sent a test kit between April 2010 and April 2011.
The new FOBT kit, manufactured by Fujirebio, was assessed and found fit for use in the Program by both the Therapeutic Goods Administration and a specially appointed, independent Expert Advisory Group.
Bowel cancer can develop with few, if any, early warning signs and early detection through screening can save lives. All people who receive a new FOBT kit are encouraged to retake the test to obtain a reliable result. Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world and bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer related death after lung cancer.
Page currency, Latest update: 04 February, 2013