Bowel cancer screening participation

Participation data helps us to know the extent to which target groups are being reached and are usually measured over a longer period than activity data.

For the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP), participation refers to the proportion of people invited who returned a completed a screening test during a specified period.

Participation in the NBCSP is measured over 2 calendar years to align with the 2-year recommended screening interval. Participation rates are calculated using an additional 6 months of data after the end of the 2-year invitation period, to allow time for all invitees to complete and return their screening kit.

Updates to bowel cancer screening participation data 2018–2019

Bowel cancer screening participation data in this report are sourced from a live database, which is updated over time, with later data supplies likely to have a greater level of completeness. Data in this report may differ from other AIHW cancer screening reports, which are sourced at a different time.

Preliminary participation data for bowel cancer screening are published ahead of the AIHW annual monitoring report to give key stakeholders and policy-makers early access to these important data. As more recent data are used to update participation when the AIHW annual monitoring report is released, preliminary participation data are subject to change. Preliminary bowel cancer screening participation data for 2018–2019 were first published in December 2020, and were last updated in the June 2021 release, aligning with data published in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program: monitoring report 2021. This led to a small change in some results. Data in this section are presented to one decimal place in this release.

Final 2019–2020 participation data for the bowel cancer screening program will be updated in a future release of this report when these data are available.

Explore the latest data in the visualisations below.

Participation in bowel cancer screening

In 2018–2019:

  • 5.7 million people aged 50–74 were invited to participate in the NBCSP
  • almost 2.5 million people returned a completed bowel screening test
  • the national participation rate was 43.5%.

Participation by sex and age

In 2018–2019:

  • women had a higher participation rate than men (45.6% compared with 41.3%)
  • those aged 70–74 years had the highest participation rate.

Participation in bowel cancer screening

In 2018–2019:

  • 5.7 million people aged 50–74 were invited to participate in the NBCSP
  • almost 2.5 million people returned a completed bowel screening test
  • the national participation rate was 43.5%.

Participation by sex and age

In 2018–2019:

  • women had a higher participation rate than men (45.6% compared with 41.3%)
  • those aged 70–74 years had the highest participation rate.

Participation by state/territory

In 2018-2019, for people aged 50-74:

  • South Australia and Tasmania had the highest bowel screening participation rates (49%).

Trends in participation

The national participation rate has increased from 38.9% of invited people aged 50–74 in 2014–2015 to 43.5% in 2018–2019. It should be noted that since 2018 the program has widened its target ages resulting in a steady increase in the number of invitees over time (see Technical notes for details).
 

This data visualisation shows participation data for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program from 2014–2015 to 2018–2019. The bar graph shows participation by age group and can be filtered by state/territory, sex (males/females and persons) and year. The line graph found on the second tab shows trend data by type of measure (number of invitees, number of participants and participation rate), state/territory, sex and age group. A third tab shows the participation data in a table form and can be filtered by measure and state/territory.

Geographical variation in bowel cancer screening participation

Participation by Primary Health Network

Primary Health Network (PHN) areas are 31 areas covering Australia, as defined by the Department of Health.

In 2018–2019:

  • Gippsland had the highest participation rate among PHN areas (50.8%)
  • The Northern Territory had the lowest participation rate (28.4%).

 

This data visualisation shows participation data for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, by Primary Health Network. The map can be filtered by state/territory and year and uses shaded areas of colour to show participation rates. The bar graph on the second tab can be filtered by year and shows the participation rate of each Primary Health Network for the selected period. A third tab shows the participation data by Primary Health Network in a table form and can be filtered by measure (number of invitees, number of participants and participation rate) and state/territory.

Participation by Statistical Area Level 3

Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3) consists of 333 geographical areas covering Australia, defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In 2018–2019:

  • Fleurieu – Kangaroo Island had the highest participation rate among SA3s (55.9%)
  •  Katherine had the lowest participation rate (14.1%).

 

This data visualisation shows participation data for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, by Statistical Area Level 3. The map can be filtered by state/territory and year and uses shaded areas of colour to show participation rates. The bar graph on the second tab can be filtered by state/territory and year and shows the participation rate of each Statistical Area Level 3 for the selected period. A third tab shows the participation data by Statistical Area Level 3 in a table form and can be filtered by measure (number of invitees, number of participants and participation rate), state/territory and year.