Cancer screening can help protect your health through early detection, even if you don’t have any symptoms of the disease. Simple screening tests look for particular changes and signs of cancer before it has developed or before any symptoms emerge.
Screening programs aim to reduce the incidence and mortality from cancer.
Australia has three national cancer screening programs:
Important message about cancer screening during COVID-19 pandemic
The Department of Health is closely monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the national cancer screening programs. They are taking advice from clinical expert advisory groups on how best to manage each program as the pandemic continues, and will provide updates as information becomes available.
For updates on the status of each program and how you may be affected, check the Breast, Bowel and Cervical screening program pages. For further information on COVID-19, visit the Department of Health website or call the COVID-19 hotline on 1800 020 080.
BreastScreen NSW is part of the national BreastScreen Australia program, which is jointly funded by the Commonwealth, and state and territory governments.
BreastScreen NSW invites women aged 50-74 to have screening mammogram once every two years. Women aged 40-49 and 75 and over are eligible to receive free mammograms but do not receive an invitation to attend.
This service aims to detect breast cancer early, before it has a chance to spread. Early detection of cancer increases the treatment options available and improves the chance of survival.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program aims to reduce illness and death from bowel cancer by offering people aged 50 to 74 years a free screening test to complete in the privacy of their own home.
By 2020, all eligible Australians aged between 50 and 74 years of age will be invited to screen every two years (around four million Australians a year). This could save up to 500 lives annually, and significantly reduce the burden of bowel cancer on Australians and their families. If detected early, bowel cancer can be successfully treated in more than 90% of cases (CINSW).
More information about the program can be found here.
On 1 July 2022, new changes came into effect regarding self-collection for cervical screening. Self-collection is now available as an option to all people with a cervix.
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Routine cervical screening is the best protection against cervical cancer. The Cervical Screening Test is expected to protect up to 30% more women.
In December 2017, the Cervical Screening Test replaced the Pap test in Australia. The Cervical Screening Test is more effective than the Pap test at preventing cervical cancers, and is just as safe to be done every five years instead of every two. More information about the Program can be seen here.
The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) is an electronic system for the collection, storage, analysis and reporting of cancer screening program data. It supports Australia’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) and National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) by inviting, reminding and following up participants for screening. It gives healthcare providers better access to quality health information and makes it easier for program participants to take control of their health. For more information go to: https://www.ncsr.gov.au/