Notes on the data: Screening programs - Bowel screening
National Bowel Cancer Screening Program: males/ females/ persons receiving a positive test result, 2014/15
Policy context: Colorectal cancer (CRC), also known as bowel cancer, is one of the commonest forms of cancer in Australia, with around 80 Australians dying each week from the disease. Bowel cancer can be treated successfully if detected in its early stages, but currently fewer than 40 per cent of bowel cancers are detected early. Screening has been shown in randomised trials to reduce the incidence of and mortality from CRC  .
Since 2006, the Australian Government has initiated a limited CRC screening program,which aims to reduce the incidence and death from bowel cancer, by using a one-time immunochemical faecal occult blood test (FOBT) for people aged 50, 55 and 65 years. The second phase of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) commenced on 1 July 2008 and offered testing to people turning 50 years of age between January 2008 and December 2010, and those turning 55 or 65 between July 2008 and December 2010. Ongoing funding has meant the program will continue to operate, expanding to include those turning 60 years of age from 2013 and those turning 70 years of age from 2015. In 2017-18 the program will introduce biennial screening, which once fully implemented will be offered to all Australians aged between 50 and 74 years, as per the recommendations by the National Health and Medical Research Council for two-yearly screening .
In addition to the NBCSP, a variety of FOBT kits are available in Australia to screen for bowel cancer either available over the counter from pharmacies, through medical practitioners, or through other programs such as BowelScreen Australia, an education and screening initiative run by The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, and BowelCare, a community service project of various Rotary clubs and districts. The data contained within this report only represent participation within the NBCSP implemented by the Australian Government in partnership with the state and territory governments, not the other mentioned programs operating within the community.
- Towler B, Irwig L, Glasziou P, et al. A systematic review of the effects of screening for colorectal cancer using the faecal occult blood test, hemoccult. BMJ. 1998;317:559-65.
- Atkin WS, Edwards R, Kralj-Hans I, et al; UK Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Trial Investigators. Once-only flexible sigmoidoscopy screening in prevention of colorectal cancer: a multicentre randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2010;375:1624-33.
- Department of Health (DOH). National Bowel Cancer Screening Program [Internet]. [cited 2014 May 22, updated 2016 Mar 18]. Available from: http://www.cancerscreening.gov.au/internet/screening/publishing.nsf/Content/about-the-program-1
Notes: The outcome indicator presented is referred to as a 'positive test result'; a positive FOBT result indicates that blood has been found in the sample provided.
Where there are fewer than five people with a positive test result in an area, the data is usually suppressed to protect confidentiality. However, in this instance, this has not been applied to the data as the Department of Health has determined that the potential for re-identification is low.
This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia licence.
Users of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) data must acknowledge the Department of Health as the original source of the data and include the following disclaimer:
- Formal publication and reporting of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) data is undertaken by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare on behalf of the Department of Health. NBCSP data included in this report provided by the Department of Health is not part of the formal publication and reporting process for NBCSP data.
- Cautionary note about small numbers - Due to a larger degree of statistical fluctuation in small numbers, great care should be taken when assessing apparent differences involving small numbers and measures based on small numbers.
- In this edition the data for the APY Lands have been shown as `n.a.’ (not available), due to concerns as to the reliability of the data.
Numerator: Number of males/ females/ persons aged 50, 55 or 65 years who received a positive test result from the Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program between July 2014 and June 2015
Denominator: Number of males/ females/ persons aged 50, 55 or 65 years who participated in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program between July 2014 and June 2015
Detail of analysis: Per cent
Source: Compiled by PHIDU based on data provided by the Department of Health from the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, 2014/15.