Cancer Screening Community of Practice - NHMRC Clinical Practice Guidelines for the prevention, early detection and management of colorectal cancer 2017

Monday, 13 November 2017

The National Health and Medical Research Council have approved the 2017 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention, Early Detection and Management of Colorectal Cancer.  

These Guidelines provide information and recommendations to guide practice across the continuum of bowel cancer care including prevention, screening and diagnosis, clinical aspects of surgery, treatment, follow-up and psychosocial care.

The evidence overwhelmingly supports the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program as the best model for population screening in Australia:

The recommended strategy for population screening in Australia, directed at those of average risk of bowel cancer and without relevant symptoms, is immunochemical faecal occult blood testing every two years, starting at age 50 years and continuing to age 74 years.

Importantly, the Guidelines advise GPs to discourage over-screening using colonoscopy. Inappropriate use of colonoscopy as a screening method increases demand on hospital services and exposes patients to increased risk of harm.

The Guidelines recognise the critical role of GPs in supporting this life-saving Program. Encouragement by GPs and practice staff substantially boosts participation in screening, and can increase the Program’s effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. 

You may wish to provide the fact sheet to practices and health professionals within your area. It outlines the key changes to the Guidelines relating to the Program and how GPs can support the Program in line with the NHMRC’s evidence-based recommendations. This information is also provided on the Program’s website

Please note that the NHMRC Clinical Practice Guidelines for Surveillance Colonoscopy are currently under review. These will focus on the appropriate use of surveillance colonoscopy in patients after removal of adenomas; curative resection for bowel cancer; and inflammatory bowel disease. It is anticipated these will be published in 2018.

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