STEP 1: Prevention and early detection


Recommendations for reducing the risk of colorectal cancer:

  • completing the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) at-home bowel cancer test, every 2 years if aged 50–74 years
  • eating a healthy diet, including plenty of vegetables, fruit and whole grains while minimising intake of red meat, barbequed/grilled meat and processed meat
  • maintaining a healthy body weight
  • undertaking regular physical activity
  • avoiding or limiting alcohol intake
  • not smoking.

Consider aspirin (100–300 mg per day) as a prevention measure for people who are 50–70 years old including those at an average risk of colorectal cancer, in conjunction with other comorbidities.

Early detection

The NBCSP invites people starting at age 50 and continuing to age 74 (at average risk and asymptomatic) to screen for bowel cancer using a free, simple test at home.

Screening recommendations

For category 1 (near average risk) patients, an immunochemical faecal occult blood test (iFOBT) is recommended every 2 years between 50 and 74 years of age.

For category 2 (moderately increased risk) patients, offer iFOBT every 2 years starting at age 40, then colonoscopy every 5 years starting at age 50.

For category 3 (high risk) patients, offer iFOBT every two years starting at age 35, then colonoscopy every 5 years from age 45 to age 74.

Refer to the colorectal cancer optimal care pathway for more about the risk categories.