Cancer Council Australia

Annual Review 2015-2016

Cancer screening and immunisation

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Population-based cancer screening and immunisation programs are among the most effective public health measures to reduce the cancer burden and healthcare costs.

Cancer Council Australia promotes and encourages participation in Australia's national breast cancer, bowel cancer and cervical cancer screening programs, and the immunisation programs for human papillomavirus (HPV). We contribute to the development of the policy, frameworks and public information programs that support Australia's population-based screening programs.

Ongoing efforts to promote bowel cancer screening

Cancer Council supports a fully implemented national bowel cancer screening program as an urgent intervention to reduce cancer deaths in Australia.

Based on the evidence, we recommend that average-risk Australians aged 50 and over complete a faecal occult blood test (FOBT) every two years.

Australia's National Bowel Cancer Screening Program will be fully implemented - offering biennial screening to all Australians aged 50 to 74 - by 2020. Cancer Council analyses project that a sustained 60% participation rate from 2020 would prevent more than 84,000 bowel cancer deaths by 2040.

In 2015-16 we continued to work with the Australian Government to maximise participation in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, providing independent media commentary to help promote the program.

We also continued to develop strategies to engage health professionals, particularly GPs, as their support for screening is critical to increasing participation and maximising the impact of the program.

An evaluation of the effectiveness of Australia's National Bowel Cancer Screening Program published in March 2016 found people invited to participate in the program had less risk of dying from bowel cancer, and were more likely to have less-advanced bowel cancers at diagnosis than non-invitees. In an editorial commenting on the study in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology, Professor James St John from Cancer Council Victoria and The Royal Melbourne Hospital and Cancer Council's Director of Public Policy, Paul Grogan, said the study provided compelling evidence that the program was reducing bowel cancer morbidity and mortality.

Support for cervical screening program changes

Australia's National Cervical Screening Program will undergo significant changes in early 2017, with a transition from 2-yearly Pap smears to 5-yearly HPV DNA testing as the primary screening method.

Cancer Council has been involved in the program Renewal process and in 2015-16 continued to work closely with the Australian Government in preparation for the program changes in 2017.

Cancer Council was commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Health to develop new clinical guidelines to support the implementation of the renewed National Cervical Screening Program from May 2017. Read more about the development of these guidelines in Clinical guidelines.

In 2015-16 we also developed and disseminated information resources to support the imminent program changes, and to ensure Australian women continue to participate in the Pap test based program until the changes are implemented.

We ran a successful symposium at the World Indigenous Cancer Conference in March 2016, in partnership with the Department of Health, focused on issues for Indigenous women in the renewed program.

This page was last updated on: Friday, October 21, 2016