One of the difficulties with bowel cancer is that it often has no symptoms at all until it is at an advanced stage.
As statistics indicate that 5% of all Australians will develop bowel cancer at some point in their lives, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program was introduced in 2008 where everyone aged 50-75 is screened for any presence of blood in the faeces, even where it cannot be detected by the naked eye using a test known as the FOBT - Faecal Occult Blood Test.
This test should be taken every 1-2 years. Where an FOBT test comes back positive i.e. there is blood present, this does not necessarily indicate the presence of cancer, however further testing (normally a colonoscopy) is strongly recommended.
The Faecal Occult Blood Test does not detect all polyps, and some smaller cancers can be missed by the test. A colonoscopy remains the most accurate diagnostic tool.