Referral to emergency

If any of the following are present or suspected, please refer the patient to the emergency department (via ambulance if necessary) or seek emergent medical advice if in a remote region.

  • nil

For clinical advice, please telephone the relevant metropolitan Local Health Network switchboard and ask to speak to the relevant specialty service.

Central Adelaide Local Health Network

Northern Adelaide Local Health Network

Southern Adelaide Local Health Network

Category 1 (appointment clinically indicated within 30 days)

  • concerns of recurrence of local or distant disease
    • imaging suspicious of recurrent disease
    • significant new changes to bowel habits
    • positive faecal occult blood test (FOBT)

Category 2 (appointment clinically indicated within 90 days)

  • nil

Category 3 (appointment clinically indicated within 365 days)

  • nil

For more on outpatient referrals, see the general referral information page.

Essential referral information

Completion required before first appointment to ensure patients are ready for care. Please indicate in the referral if the patient is unable to access mandatory tests or investigations as they incur a cost or are unavailable locally.

  • identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander  
  • relevant social history, including identifying if you feel your patient is from a vulnerable population and/or requires a third party to receive correspondence on their behalf
  • interpreter required
  • past medical/surgical history
  • family history - specific to bowel cancer, irritable bowel disease, and polyposis


  • weight loss
  • ascites
  • bowel symptoms
    • bowel habits constipation, straining, diarrhoea, incomplete rectal emptying
    • per rectum bleeding
    • pus or mucous
    • tenesmus
    • presence of rectal bleeding volume, duration
  • medications and allergies
  • smoking/alcohol and other drug status
  • age
  • history of previous diagnosis for high-risk syndrome, or diagnosis and curative treatment provided and outcome, including:
    • genetic panel confirmation
    • surgery
    • chemotherapy/radiotherapy
  • relevant diagnostic/imaging reports, including location of company and accession number
  • previous colonoscopy reports and histopathology
  • relevant letters from clinical genetics regarding recommended surveillance plans

Clinical management advice

Colorectal cancer surveillance plays a vital role in the Australian population, aiding in early detection, improving survival rates, identifying precancerous lesions, tailoring treatment plans, screening for second primary cancers, providing psychological support, and contributing to research and data collection. It is an essential component of comprehensive cancer care for individuals who have had curative surgery or are at high risk due to specific syndromes.

All referrals should be made in alignment with the national health and medical research council (NHMRC) clinical guidelines for surveillance colonoscopy.

Clinical resources

Consumer resources