Cancer screening

One of the four national health priorities determined by the Australian government is to increase cancer screening rates.

Recent reports released from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare highlight the positive impact increased screening rates can have on reducing illness and death from cancer, however they also indicate there is still work to do to reduce the incidence even further.

COORDINARE will be working with the local community and health care providers to see what we can do together to improve cancer screening rates in South Eastern NSW.

Below are some links to useful resources related to cancer screening:

Prevention and early detection

The National Cancer Screening Program website has comprehensive information and useful resources for health professionals and consumers. Resources on cervical, bowel and breast cancer can be downloaded or ordered online. Other useful information can be found on the Cancer Council Australia and Cancer Institute NSW websites.

HealthPathways provides a detailed guide to screening, assessment, management and local referral options, as well as links to useful websites and resources (note, not all pathways are localised yet). Visit the Illawarra Shoalhaven or ACT & Southern NSW HealthPathways sites for more information.

National Cancer Screening Register

From 2018, a new national register will support the National Bowel Cancer Screening Project and the renewed National Cervical Screening Project. Its functions include:

  • provide a single service that will collect, analyse and report screening data in a nationally consistent manner and inform timely decision making
  • facilitate invitations for screening and mailing of test kits
  • allow participants to access their screening records.

An update on the rollout of the new register (cervical screening functions) is available here

The Register will be underpinned by legislation that will ensure protection of invitees’ and participants’ personal information. For further details about accessing the register and searching for forms, or to access the Transition Quick Start Guide for Health Professionals, click here

Breastscreening guidelines and information, online modules and other professional development resources for health professionals are available on Breastscreen NSW and the Cancer Australia websites.

The below video provides a guide to women from Arabic-speaking/Mandarin-speaking communities on the importance of breast screening. Breast screening is an important routine health check for women aged 50-74. Regular screening mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer early; before any symptoms are noticed, and when treatment is likely to be most successful.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program website has information for health professionals on bowel screening, including a GP information sheet.

Further resources for health professionals and instructions for consumers can be downloaded or ordered from the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program website here. Translated resources are available here.

Consumer resources are also available on the Cancer Institute NSW website. A short video for consumers, available in a number of languages, is available at www.cancerscreening.gov.au/bowel.

HealthPathways

The Illawarra Shoalhaven and ACT & Southern NSW HealthPathways sites provide a comprehensive guide to assessment, management and referral as well as links to useful websites and resources.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resources

The Indigenous bowel screen website is a comprehensive library of information, resources and videos for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, GPs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island health workers and nurses. 

The Menzies School of Health Research has developed a project for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers to encourage bowel screening by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. An online module is available, for more information contact bowelscreening@menzies.edu.au.

Important notices

Self-screening

The Department of Health advises that clinicians should check with their pathology provider that they are accredited to offer patient self-screening. The RACGP website has a series of videos addressing common questions that GPs receive.

Women under 25

Routine screening for women under 25 is not recommended and is not covered by Medicare. Refer to clinical guidelines for management of women under 25.

On 1 December 2017, the National Cervical Screening Program changed from two yearly cervical cytology testing to five yearly HPV testing for women aged 25–74 years. An HPV test every five years is more effective, just as safe, and is expected to result in a significant reduction (24%-36%) in incidence and mortality from cervical cancer in Australian women, compared with the program it replaces, which is based on two yearly pap smears.

Overview for health professionals – including transitioning patients, pathology, MBS, accessing histories and contacting the NCSR

An overview for health professionals including information about the renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program and where to go for more details, can be found on the Cancer Institute NSW website.

The National Cervical Cancer Screening Program website has comprehensive information for health professionals including evidence, pathology and the new screening pathway. The resource library contains information packs, quick reference guides and other materials which can be download or ordered as hard copies.  

Information is also available on MBS item descriptors and PIP cervical screening MBS items.

HealthPathways

The Illawarra Shoalhaven and ACT & Southern NSW cervical screening pages offer a HealthPathways PDSA CPD activity to implement the changes in practice, see the ‘Information’ tab - clinical resources at the bottom of the page.

New guidelines

Guidelines for the management of screen-detected abnormalities, screening in specific populations and investigation of abnormal vaginal bleeding can be accessed here.  

Consumer resources

The National Cervical Screening Program website resource library also contains consumer resources, including resources in a number of languages for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, which you can access here, and resources for CALD communities, accessible here. Information and resources are also available on the Family Planning NSW and Cancer Institute NSW websites.

Resources for health professionals

  • a video demonstrating the new cervical screening test is available here (warning: it contains clinical images)
  • a video on requesting screening and follow-up under the renewed National Cervical Screening Program is available on the NPS MedicineWise website here
  • online training modules for clinicians covering the cervical screening changes are available on the NPS MedicineWise website
  • a series of online learning modules for health professionals supporting  the needs of people affected by breast cancer is available free of charge on the Cancer Australia website 
  • a practice checklist for the 1 December cervical screening changes can be found here
  • a 45 minute COORDINARE webinar for clinicians on the cervical screening changes is available for viewing on our video page
  • Family Planning has produced a new handbook, Implementing the changes to the National Cervical Screening Program: A guide for clinicians
  • to find services by location, cancer type and service type visit www.canrefer.org.au
  • Cancer Institute NSW overview for health professionals
  • Cancer Council WA Women's Health Regional Webinar Series: The Renewed National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP)
  • an interactive site you can refer patients to, to help them better understand cancer as well as reduce their risk
  • NSW Quitline Online Referral Form can be accessed here or via the Cancer Institute NSW website. Patients can also request a NSW Quitline call back via iCanQuit or contact the NSW Quitline directly on 13 7848
  • Handbook on Gynaecological Cancers for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals. Gynaecological Cancers: a Handbook for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners promotes risk reduction, cervical cancer screening, awareness of symptoms, early detection and appropriate and timely testing and treatment. The Handbook can be downloaded from the Cancer Australia website or ordered via phone: 1800 624 973.

Other useful resources

The following resources are a brief list of quality improvement activities for improving cancer screening:

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