Cancer screening involves a simple test to help detect the early signs of disease, before symptoms emerge. When cancers are detected early, treatment is more successful and less involved. In some cases, a screening test may even help prevent a cancer from developing, by flagging early changes or pre-cancerous lesions that can be treated.
Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world. Around one in 15 Australians will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime. When identified early, more than 90% of bowel cancers can be successfully treated. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBSCP) aims to reduce deaths from bowel cancer through early detection of the disease.
Through the NBCSP, a free bowel screening home test kit is sent to the Medicare-registered address of eligible people aged 50-74. The test is used to collect tiny samples of two separate bowel motions (poo), which are then analysed to detect tiny traces of blood, which may not be visible to the naked eye. The screening test cannot diagnose bowel cancer, but the results will indicate whether a further test (usually a colonoscopy) is needed to rule out bowel cancer. Anyone with potential bowel cancer symptoms should not complete the home test kit and should instead speak to their doctor about these symptoms as soon as possible.
The test kits contain step-by-step instructions and a reply-paid envelope, to return the samples for pathology testing. The samples are processed, and the results are sent to the participant and their nominated doctor within 2 weeks.
Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in Australian women and nine out of ten women diagnosed with it have no family history of breast cancer. Breast screening can find breast cancer early, before it can be seen or felt by a woman or her doctor. Ninety-five out of 100 women have a normal breast screening result. This means no sign of breast cancer has been found on their x-rays, however finding breast cancer early means there are more treatment options.
BreastScreen invites and recommends women aged between 50 and 74 years, without breast cancer symptoms to have a screening mammogram every two years. This is because the evidence of benefit is strongest in this age group. Women aged between 40 and 49 years, or 75 years and older can also have a free breast screen (screening mammogram) through BreastScreen services.
BreastScreen uses mammography (X-ray pictures of the breast) because this is the most effective screening test to detect breast cancer for older women. Learn more about what happens at a breast screening appointment – see Having a breast screen | BreastScreen Queensland
BreastScreen services are conveniently located throughout Australia. Gold Coast services are permanently located at Burleigh Waters, Helensvale, Southport and Robina. A mobile unit also visits Beaudesert, Eagleby, Elanora, Jimboomba, Nerang, North Tamborine, and Pimpama annually.
Phoning 13 20 50 will connect women to their nearest BreastScreen service to make an appointment. Eligible women can also book online by visiting the BreastScreen Queensland website. Some after-hours appointments are available. Women do not need a doctor’s referral. Women may seek interpreter assistance when booking by first phoning the Translating and Interpreting Service (13 14 50). Most women who have a screening mammogram will get a result of ‘no evidence of breast cancer’. Women should continue to know the look and feel of their breasts between screening mammograms and report any changes to their doctor.
Around five in every 100 women screened will be called back to a BreastScreen assessment clinic for more tests because the mammogram showed an abnormality. For most of these individuals, subsequent tests are normal and breast cancer is not found. Learn more about what happens at a BreastScreen Queensland Assessment clinic – see Having follow up tests | BreastScreen Queensland
More information can be found on the BreastScreen Australia website.
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Most cervical cancers occur in women who have never screened or do not screen regularly. Having regular screening tests as part of the National Cervical Screening Program is an effective way of preventing or detecting cervical cancer early.
The Cervical Screening Test detects the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) – a common infection that causes almost all cervical cancers – so that it can be monitored or investigated further if needed.
You are eligible for a subsidised Cervical Screening Test if you are:
It makes no difference if you:
If you have had a full or partial hysterectomy, please check with your doctor about screening.
The Cervical Screening Test is a simple procedure to check the health of your cervix.
All eligible people participating in cervical screening have the choice to screen using either a self-collected vaginal sample or a clinician collected sample from the cervix. Both options are accurate, safe and effective. Talk with your healthcare provider to help you decide which option is best for you.
More information can be found on collection for the cervical screening test here.
Once you have had your first Cervical Screening Test, you will only need to have one every five years if your results are normal. More information can be found on the National Cervical Screening Program website.