National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

The Australian Department of Health and Ageing and Medicare Australia with strong power and similar positions on these divergent views are able to have their way in the implementation of the program. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) is a health action program of the Australian Government that is conducted with the cooperation of all the States and Territory health departments, with the objective of early detection of bowel cancer for reducing the morbidity and mortality rates that are a consequence of the disease (General Practice Queensland, 2009). The relevance of the NBCSP lies in the fact that bowel cancer is among the most frequently found cancers in Australia, with a high rate of attrition. Detection in the early stages can alleviate this situation, as early detection results in the successful treatment of bowel cancer (Department of Health and Ageing, 2009). NBSCP targets the age group above the age of fifty and resulted from the success experienced by the pilot screening project in 2005. The first phase of NBSCP commenced in the middle of 2006 and targeted the age group of between 55 and 65 years (Lin, Smith Fawkes, 2007). The ongoing second phase started in 2008 and will run till the end of 2010, targeting the older Australian population above the age of fifty and the Indigenous Australians above the age of 45 at specific ages. The Australian Government has committed $67.2 million towards this second phase of the NBCSP (General Practice Queensland, 2009). Eligible individuals under NBCSP are invited to the program by mail. The screening process involves a simple fecal occult blood test (FOBT) done at home, followed by testing at a competent laboratory facility. Individuals with a positive result, then consult with their GPs, refer them for further investigations to the specialists (Department of Health and Ageing, 2009).