Cancer screening

In South Eastern NSW, a greater focus on cancer screening is needed to combat the region's higher-than-average premature mortality rates (compared to the NSW and Australia-wide averages). 

A key focus for COORDINARE is to increase cancer screening rates across a range of demographics, from older people, to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities. 

To achieve this, we are working with local community and health care providers to implement prevention strategies, promote awareness for cancer screening initiatives and enhance accessibility to services. You can read our Health priority: Prevention initiatives statement for more information. 

National Cancer Screening programs

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.

As part of the National Cancer Screening Register 2018, there is a new National Bowel Cancer Screening Project and the renewed National Cervical Screening Project, which 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 is 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

Other useful information can be found on the Cancer Council Australia and Cancer Institute NSW websites.


HealthPathways also provides a detailed guide to cancer screening, assessment, management and local referral options. Visit the Illawarra Shoalhaven or ACT & Southern NSW HealthPathways sites for information relevant to your region. 

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

Sydney North PHN has recently developed a great video about breast cancer screening, called 'Regular cancer screening may save your life'. Click here to watch Regina Marchant’s breast screening and early detection story. 

The video below provides a guide to women from Arabic and Mandarin-speaking communities on the importance of breast screening. For women aged 50-74, regular screening mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer early, before any symptoms are noticed. Early detection is more likely to result in successful treatment.

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 and here.

Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention, Early Detection and Management of Colorectal Cancer include screening and use of aspirin for prevention of colorectal cancers. Read more 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

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. You can also find more information here.

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

Cancer Institute NSW has an overview for health professionals about the renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program. 

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 downloaded or ordered as hard copies.  

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

Self-screening and screen-detected abnormalities 

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

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

Women under 25

Routine cervical cancer screening for women under 25 is not recommended and is not covered by Medicare. Refer to the guidelines for 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.

Consumer resources

The National Cervical Screening Program website resource library also contains consumer resources, including resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and resources for CALD communities

A toolkit for engaging under-screened and never-screened women in the National Cervical Screening Program is available here

Consumer information is also available on the Cancer Institute NSW website.

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
  • 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.

Resources for consumers 

Multicultural resources

  • to encourage regular cancer screening among culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) populations, a number of 'Screening Saves Lives' videos have been developed for South-East Asian, Nepalese and Bangladeshi communities
  • print resources on cancer screening are available for download in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Nepali, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese here.

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

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