Cancer screening

Find out more about cancer screening and national programs
The National Cervical Cancer Screening Program offers a free Pap test every two years to women between the ages of 18 and 70.

Following an independent review of the program, a number of changes will come into effect from 1 December 2017. The changes recognise the introduction in 2006 of a vaccine against specific strains of the human papilloma virus, which causes almost all cases of cervical cancer.

Upcoming changes

  • Learning modules: This comprehensive set of online learning modules provide healthcare providers with information on the following areas
    • Communicating the importance of screening and test results to patients
    • Changes to the National Cervical Screening Program
    • Changes to practice and the cervical screening clinical pathway
  • National Cervical Cancer Screening Program homepage
HealthPathways Sunshine Coast and Gympie provides pathways for bowel cancer follow up and cervical polyps should the cancer screening detect any symptoms.

Bowel cancer is common in Australia, with 1 in 12 people developing the disease in their lifetime. Almost 80 Australians die each week due to bowel cancer. Over 90 per cent of bowel cancers can be successfully treated if detected in its earliest stage. Screening can detect bowel cancer, but less than 40 per cent of cases are found early.

The national guidelines recommend that everyone from the age of 50 is considered to be “average risk” and should be screened for bowel cancer.

In Australia the free 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. The Program is being gradually rolled-out, with new age groups being included each year. In 2016, Australians turning 50, 55, 60, 64, 65, 70, 72 or 74 will be asked to take a test. By 2020, all Australians aged 50-74 will be invited to participate, or be contacted by the program every two years.


About cancer screening

Cancer screening can detect cancers before any symptoms emerge. Simple screening tests can detect cancer early by looking for particular changes and early signs. Australia has national cancer screening programs for breast, bowel and cervical cancer. Information and resources are available from the Department of Health’s Cancer Screening website.

We work with primary health care providers to increase their capacity to promote cancer screening and support patients to access cancer screening services and initiatives.

GPs Cancer Screening Rates

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Cancer Screening Rates for consumers

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