Encouraging patients to participate in bowel screening

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer, but if detected early, more than 90% of cases can be successfully treated.

The National Bowel Screening Program reports only 43.5% of all eligible people aged 50-74 complete the kits sent to them every two years. If the participation rate increased to 60%, 84,000 lives could be saved over the next 20 years.

Research undertaken in 2021 by the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer (CBRC) identified three types of people who are not participating in bowel screening: Refusers, Intenders and the FOBT Naïve.

Each face specific barriers to participation. GPs and primary care health professionals are critical in responding to these challenges. We know that once people choose to screen, 80% will screen again when next invited.

The Cancer Council has produced a GP resource which can be used to identify the best approach to support these reluctant or hesitant screeners in choosing to screen, thereby contributing to improving NBCSP participation rates.

Visit bowelcancer.org.au/gp for more useful resources or more information about the campaign