The latest National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) Report released today by the AIHW reveals participation rates continue to hover at 43.5% and colonoscopy wait times for those who receive a positive screen far exceed the recommended 30 days.

According to the report, 5.74 million people aged 50-74 were invited to participate in the NBCSP in 2018-19 but only 2.49 million took up the offer.
Of those who participated, 89,817 received a positive test result. 
A positive result means that blood was detected in the sample and requires further investigation via colonoscopy within 30 days.
But only 13,938 (15.5%) participants were recorded as receiving a follow-up colonoscopy within the recommended time frame.
Of those participants who received the procedure following a positive screen, the wait varied between 112 and 173 days, depending on where they lived.
Medical guidelines acknowledge that wait times exceeding 120 days between first healthcare presentation and diagnostic colonoscopy are associated with poorer clinical outcomes.
Today’s report reveals that despite some improvements, colonoscopy wait-times continue to exceed medical guidelines.
“Timely diagnosis is paramount,” said colorectal surgeon, Dr Graham Newstead AM.
“The opportunity for early detection is lost if a positive test is not followed up by a prompt colonoscopy,” he added.
Unfortunately we will not know the full impact of COVID-19 on colonoscopy wait times for at least another year as today's data only reflects wait times for 2019.
“Early diagnosis is a key predictor of surviving bowel cancer and positive test results and symptoms need to be investigated via timely colonoscopy. It is imperative we address the colonoscopy waitlists, otherwise we risk undoing the gains made over the past 20 years,” he added.