Step 10: Strategies for increasing cancer screening participation among people who live remotely

Real-life experience

Real-life experience

“You can’t just drop in (for screening); you have to drive an hour.”[30]

- Woman, Ulong, NSW

Cancer screening among remote communities

  • People living remotely or very remotely are less likely to participate in bowel, breast and cervical cancer screening.3,4,5
  • The number of GP services provided per person in ‘Very remote’ areas during 2010–2011 was about half that of major cities.33
  • Following a positive iFOBT result, the diagnostic assessment follow-up rate of those living very remotely was 52.8% compared with 70.6% in major cities.3
Barriers to screening for people living remotely can include the following:
  • Lack of access to health services (less availability of GPs, bulk bill services, out-of-hours services.34
  • Travel time to health services.30
  • Lower education and income.34
  • Lack of privacy due to social or personal familiarity with health care providers (in small rural or remote towns).34
Strategies for increasing cancer screening participation among people who live remotely:
  • Support your patients to understand their nearest BreastScreen NSW location by visiting and entering their postcode. 
  • Encourage women to book online at
  • Consider working with your local BreastScreen NSW service to organise a group booking for your remote and very remote patients. 
  • Work in partnership with BreastScreen NSW and your PHN to support provision of transport for group bookings (your PHN may be able to provide more information about community transport services).
  • Consider delivering out-of-hours health clinics.
  • Use your practice data to actively encourage patients to attend cervical screening, and provide transport assistance where possible.
  • Integrate discussions about bowel and breast screening into cervical screening appointments, if age appropriate.
  • Use software prompts to support integration of cancer screening into routine care to maximise opportunistic screening.
  • Consider offering bulk billing to patients with health care cards.

Follow up and support patients who have a positive iFOBT to access timely diagnostic assessment.