Lower age limit for free bowel cancer screening

Bowel testing van. | Newsreel
The lowering of the age limit for free bowel testing coincides with a national roadshow to raise awareness. | Photo: Supplied by the Federal Government

The Federal Government is extending the free bowel screening program to people aged above 45.

Currently, people aged 50 to 74 receive a free bowel screening kit in the mail every two years.

From July 1, people aged 45 to 49 can join the program by requesting a kit.

The expanded age criteria comes as the Federal Department of Health begins a national roadshow to raise awareness of bowel cancer, with a focus on First Nations people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

A statement from the Department said bowel cancer could develop without a family history of the disease and often without signs and symptoms.

“The free test can find traces of blood in your poo that may indicate the presence of cancer or pre-cancerous polyps. Catching it early is key,” the statement said.

The Department said an extra $38.8 million had been committed to following up people who had received a positive bowel cancer screening result through the program and $10.25 million would fund the national awareness campaign with Cancer Council Australia, which includes the roadshow.

The roadshow begins in Sydney this month and takes in locations in the Northern Territory, far north and south-east Queensland, the ACT and regional NSW.

People aged 45 and 49 can request their first bowel screening kit, from July 1, at the National Cancer Screening Register website, by calling 1800 627 701, or by talking to their doctor.