How to do the bowel screening test

An instruction brochure with step by step pictorial instructions on how to do the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program test

Page last updated: 23 September 2017 (this page is generated automatically and reflects updates to other content within the website)

PDF version: How to do the bowel screening test (PDF 1232 KB)

Do the test even if you feel well. Bowel cancer can develop without any obvious signs.

Before the Test Talk to Your Doctor if:

  • You have a family history of bowel cancer
  • You think you might have symptoms of bowel cancer (blood in the poo, changes in your poo, like looser poo or straining to do a poo, tummy pain, weight loss, feeling unusually tired
  • You have any concerns or questions

What the Results Mean:

A negative test means no blood was found. Do the test again in 2 years.
A positive test means blood was found. It does not necessarily mean you have cancer. But you need to see your doctor to find out why there is blood in your poo.

Ask Your GP

You will receive a free kit from the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program because you are aged 50 to 74. There are a few things you need to know before you do the test:
  • Don’t stop your medication.
  • Eat what you normally do.
  • DON’T do the test if you have:
    • Piles (haemorrhoids) which are bleeding. If this happens, see your doctor.
    • Blood in your urine or blood in the toilet bowl. If this happens, see your doctor.
    • A colonoscopy booked in the next few weeks.
    • Current treatment for bowel problems.
    • Your menstrual period. Wait for three days after your period before doing the test.

A Simple Test Could Save Your Life

Don’t delay do a bowel test today

  • Call the Test Kit Helpline on 1800 738 365 if you have questions about doing the test
  • Call the Program Info Line on 1800 118 868 if you have questions about the Program
  • To watch a quick ‘how to do the test’ video go to www.cancerscreening.gov.au/bowel
(Numbers are free call but calls from mobiles may be charged)

National Bowel Cancer Screening Program logo
Menzies School of Health Research logo

1. Get Ready

Read all the steps before you start.
Get everything out of the test kit.

Do a wee and flush the toilet.
Put one of the papers with red writing (A) in the toilet with the picture facing up. (It’s okay if it gets wet.)

2. Collect the First Sample

Poo onto the paper and drag the tip of the blue stick through the poo (you only need a tiny bit).
Put the blue stick (B) into one of the small tubes (C) and push until it clicks shut. Flush the toilet - it’s okay to flush the paper sheet too.

3. Store the Sample

Write your name, date of birth and date you did the test on the label (D) and stick it around the small tube (C).
Put the small tube (C) into one of the larger tubes (E) and put this into the plastic bag (F).
Put the plastic bag in the blue envelope (G). Store the envelope somewhere cool, like in the fridge (don’t freeze).

4. Collect the Second Sample

When you do your next poo, repeat steps 1, 2 and 3 using the red collection stick (B).
Try to do both tests within 2 to 3 days.

5. Posting Your Sample

Write the dates your samples were taken on the Participant Details Form and sign the back of the form.
Sign the Front of the blue envelope and write your name and address on the BACK.
Put the form And the two samples in the blue envelope and seal it.
Post the samples as soon as you can. Take it to a post office, not a post box, as the samples need to stay cool.

Menzies would like to acknowledge: Artwork: Jordon Lovegrove; Original brochures: WA Health and QLD Health.