Doing the test

The bowel cancer screening test is easy, quick and can be done in the comfort of your own home.

Page last updated: 06 December 2019

You will receive your screening invitation, free screening test kit and other program information through the post around the time of your birthday.

Screening kit and results

Video: Using the Home Test Kit

The home test kit includes an instruction sheet that explains how to do the test. If you would like help to understand the instructions contact the Test Kit Helpline 1800 930 998 (if you received your kit in 2017 contact 1800 738 365). They will talk to you about the test and how to do it.

Complete the test as soon as you can. If your test is damaged or has expired, contact the Program Information Line on 1800 118 868 and ask for a replacement kit. If you have any of the symptoms associated with bowel cancer contact your doctor.

Once you have collected your samples, send them to the pathology laboratory in the reply paid envelope provided in the kit. Remember to send back your Participant Details Form with the kit. The samples are then processed and the results sent to you, your doctor or health service and the Program Register within two weeks.

From 2020, when you complete your bowel screening kit, your test result will also be sent to your My Health Record, unless you indicate on your Participant Details form that you do not want this to happen or you have previously opted out of the My Health Record. People can handwrite ‘Do not send reports to My Health Record’ on their existing Participant Details form, noting that new forms issued in late 2019, will have a tick box option for people to indicate their preference.

If your result is sent to the My Health Record and you want it removed you can do this by:

  1. Logging into your My Health Record and removing your result; or
  2. Contacting the My Health Record Help line which is available 24/7 on 1800 723 471.

Understanding your results

The screening test result shows whether blood was found in your samples.

If blood is found in your samples, your test result will be positive and you will need to discuss the result with your doctor. Your doctor may recommend a further test to find the cause of the bleeding, usually a colonoscopy. A positive result may be due to conditions other than cancer (such as polyps, haemorrhoids or inflammation of the bowel).

More information is available in Facts about Colonoscopy.

If no blood is found in your samples, your test result will be negative and no further action is required for now. However, this does not mean that you do not have or can never develop bowel cancer, as some bowel cancers do not bleed or only bleed on and off. Tests like the one used in the Program detect up to 85 per cent of bowel cancers. This is why it is important to screen every two years and talk to your doctor immediately if you develop symptoms after getting a negative result.

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