Current Australian guidelines recommend regular screening
with faecal occult blood tests (FOBT) in asymptomatic people
over 50 years of age in order to reduce mortality from bowel
cancer. After assessing the feasibility, acceptability and cost
effectiveness of bowel cancer screening using FOBTs in an
Australian setting, the Australian Government commenced the
National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) in August
2006 among certain age groups.
This article discusses the background to the establishment of
the NBCSP and the role of the general practitioner in bowel
General practitioners have a number of important roles in
the NBCSP, including encouraging participation, managing
participants who have a positive FOBT, providing information
about referrals to the NBCSP, and managing individuals who, by
way of symptoms or significant family history, require diagnostic
investigations or targeted surveillance rather than screening.
In addition, GPs need to be aware of the populations groups
not targeted by the current phases of the NBCSP but for whom
bowel cancer screening is recommended.
Bowel cancer is the second most common internal cancer affecting Australians, with approximately 12 500 new cases and 4300 deaths each year.1 Men are slightly more likely to be affected than women,1 and the risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) increases with age.2
Download the PDF for the full article.