Bowel cancer is the 3rd most common type of newly diagnosed cancer in Australia and is the 4th leading cause of death. 90% of bowel cancer cases can be treated successfully if caught early so bowel screening is essential to improve your survival rates.

It is recommended that adults ages 50-74 should complete a FOBT (faecal occult blood test) every two years to detect any early signs of bowel cancer. If you have a family history of bowel cancer, you will probably be recommended by your healthcare professional to get tested more often to pick up any early signs.

What is Bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer starts when non-threatening growths start forming on the wall or lining of your bowel. Depending on where the cancer is located, bowel cancer can also be called colon or rectal cancer. Some of the symptoms of bowel cancer include change of bowel habits such as constipation, abdominal pain and rectal bleeding, unexplained weight loss, and pains or lumps in the rectal area.

What is a Bowel Test Kit?

A bowel test kit can detect miniscule traces of blood present in a small stool sample which may be an early indication that something is wrong with your bowel. A bowel screening test can be completed in the privacy of your own home and is a quick, simple and clean process. Your sample will be sent to a laboratory where they will examine it for any signs of blood. The test doesn’t show exactly what is wrong but if your result is positive you will be asked to contact your doctor who will most likely recommend further testing and a colonoscopy.

Who should do the test?

If you have been noticing any symptoms of bowel cancer such as blood in your stool, change in your bowel habits or unexplained weight loss, then it is recommended that you see your GP and do a bowel test kit.

Bowel Cancer is more common in people over the age of 50 and even young adults. These bowel test kits are easily available at pharmacies and can be done at home. Bowel Test Kits are not for everyone so check with your doctor before participating.

How do I use a Bowel Test Kit at home?

A stool sample container for bowel test kit

When you buy your Bowel Test Kit you will be given a list of instructions that should be fairly easy to follow, if you are not sure of anything and have any questions, contact the providers’ helpline or talk to your local GP. It is not necessary to change your diet or eating habits before completing a bowel test.

  1. Collect a small sample from your bowel motion (poo) using the provided test stick and put it into the clear tube
  2. Put the clear sample tube into the zip-lock bag provided along with the filled out consent form
  3. Send it off via your local post office in the pre-paid envelope that is provided with your kit

Most test kits will have an expiry date meaning that the laboratory can refuse to process it. It is a good idea to send your sample off as soon as you have done it.

Once your sample has been processed your results will be sent back within 2 weeks to you and your nominated health provider.

Where can I buy a Bowel Test Kit?

These kits are very accessible and you can buy them online, at your local pharmacy or after a consultation with your doctor. If you have any symptoms, contact your health provider as soon as possible so the cause can be found.

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