For general practice: an opportunity to get up to speed on bowel cancer screening

home bowel screening pack
  14 June 2023  NWMPHN   

As you know, regular screening saves lives, because more than 90 per cent of bowel cancers can be successfully treated if found early. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program aims to reduce deaths by detecting early signs of the disease in eligible Australians aged between 50 and 74 through the use of free simple home tests.

Health care providers can bulk order and issue kits to eligible patients through the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR). This is called the “alternative access to kits model”.

If your practice does not already provide kits to patients, here’s how to get started.

Practices must register for access to the NCSR Healthcare Provider Portal before they can bulk order and issue kits, or access and submit screening data. You can find a user guide to doing so here.

The NCSR has a quick start guide and videos to support practices on the alternative access to kits model. Once registered, you can log onto website and place an order. Ordering can also be integrated into clinical software.

Tips for ordering

Log into the Healthcare Provider Portal and click the ‘iFOBT Bulk Orders’ button to quickly order kits for your practice. Watch a video or access instructions here.

It’s useful to remember that kits:

  • expire after 7 months
  • can be ordered in batches of 10
  • and can take up to 21 days to be dispatched.

User instructions are available in 22 community languages. These can be found here.

NCSR recommends ordering no more than 30 kits at a time. However, if you have a large number of eligible patients you can order up to 100. To do this, call 1800 627 701.

Issuing kits and recording in NCSR

  1. Complete the ‘Alternative Access Model (issue/reissue kit)’ form to generate unique patient participant details.
  2. Print a copy of the participant details form and give it to the patient to sign. This has to be included with their samples in the kit reply-paid envelope.
  3. Record details in the NCSR of each kit issued.

Conversation starters

What you say to your patients can encourage them to do the bowel screening test. Here are some useful prompts:

  • The test is free, simple to do at home and could save your life.
  • You may feel fit and healthy, but you could be at risk – increasingly so over age 50.
  • If found early over 90 per cent of bowel cancers are successfully treated.
  • Put the test near the toilet so you remember to do it.
  • The test is clean and includes toilet liners.

Want to learn more?

North Western Melbourne and Western Victoria primary health networks jointly hosted an evening education session on Tuesday, 20 June 2023. It covered:

  • the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and the ‘early detection saves lives’ campaign
  • impacts of COVID-19 on new cancer diagnoses
  • introduction to the alternative access model, including how health care providers can order kits, issue them to patients and record this in the NCSR
  • resources and further education
  • Q&A panel, including representatives from Cancer Council Victoria, NCSR, primary health networks and the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care representatives.

Watch the recorded session here.

Further resources  

NWMPHN recently updated these resources to include information on the alternative access model: