Screening programs provide an opportunity for general practice staff to play a key role in the early detection of a range of cancers. Screening helps increase the prevention and early detection of cancers, improving patient outcomes. Breast, bowel and cervical cancers all have well established national population-based screening programs.
The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) plays a vital role in supporting the National Cervical Screening Program and the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. It gives healthcare providers better access to quality health information and makes it easier for program participants to take control of their health.
The three main functions of the NCSR are to:
General Practices can access the NCSR through the Healthcare Provider Portal to:
The NCSR can now be accessed directly through integrated clinical software (Best Practice, MedicalDirector and Communicare). Practices will need to register to enable National Cancer Screening Register functionality, including receiving reminders within patient notes when screening or follow up is overdue. You can find out more information on integration here.
If you need support integrating your clinical software system with the NCSR, you can book an online session for digital support here: National Cancer Screening Register – Registration Help
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) aims to reduce illness and death from bowel cancer through early detection or prevention of the disease.
The program now operates two models to help increase screening participation:
Breast screening is proven to be effective in reducing breast cancer morbidity and mortality in women aged 50 to 74. BreastScreen Queensland offers free breast screening for asymptomatic women aged 40 and over and routinely invites and reminds women aged 50 to 74 to have a breast screen every two years. Some women are offered annual screening.
Health professionals can increase women’s confidence in breast screening by helping them to understand:
The National Cervical Screening Program reduces illness and death from cervical cancer with regular testing. The Cervical Screening Test looks for human papillomavirus (HPV). The program targets women and people with a cervix from 25 to 74 years of age.
Under the National Cervical Screening Program, all participants can choose to screen using either a self-collected vaginal sample or a healthcare provider -collected sample from the cervix, accessed through a healthcare provider in both cases.
Recent evidence shows a Cervical Screening Test using a self-collected vaginal sample is as accurate in detecting HPV as a healthcare provider -collected sample taken from the cervix during a speculum examination. A summary of the evidence of self-collection sensitivity can be found in the National Cervical Screening Program Clinical Guidelines.
Self-collection is not appropriate for patients that require a co-test, for example because they are symptomatic. Patients with symptoms that could indicate cervical abnormalities or cancer require diagnostic testing and should be managed in accordance with the National Cervical Screening Program Guidelines.