2023 program news and updates
- BreastScreen NSW has launched a new campaign
October 2023 program news and updates
Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in NSW, with 1 in 7 women developing breast cancer in their lifetime. In 2020 alone, breast cancer claimed the lives of 1,024 women in the state.
Despite this, more than 620,000 NSW women in the target age group of 50–74 years have not had their recommended breast screen in the past two years.
Research has found that many women are not prioritising their health amidst the busyness of their lives and therefore do not participate in regular breast screening. In response to this, the Cancer Institute NSW has developed the new campaign to motivate women aged 50–74 in NSW to book a breast screen when due.
GPs and primary care professionals are instrumental in encouraging women to have their regular breast screen.
A breast screening guide for GPs (PDF) has been developed to support this process.
This October, we urge you to remind women about the importance of the early detection of breast cancer and recommend they book in for their free mammogram.
View the campaign toolkit online. To support the campaign:
- Circulate the toolkit among your staff and networks
- Like and share our campaign social media posts
- Print our posters and display prominently
To book an appointment call 13 20 50 or book online.
August 2023 program news and updates
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in NSW and one in seven women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Regular two-yearly breast screening remains the most effective method of detecting breast cancer in its early stages. Breast cancer survival rates are as high as 98% if detected early.
Breast screening rates were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in patients delaying their regular screen or not screening at all.
- In response to the first wave, BreastScreen NSW temporarily suspended screening services on 27 March 2020, recommencing services by 18 May 2020. In 2020 the number of screens were 16% lower compared to 2019.
- In response to the second wave, BreastScreen NSW progressively suspended services from June 2021, with all services closed from 19 August 2021 and all were operational again by 22 November 2021. There were 25% fewer screens in the January to November period compared to the equivalent period in 2019.
BreastScreen NSW is fully operational and has contacted all women impacted by closures urging them to book in for their routine mammogram.
Research from BreastScreen NSW shows that General Practitioners have a significant influence on a woman’s decision to have a screening mammogram. Although a referral is not required to attend the BreastScreen NSW program, GPs and practice nurses play an important role in providing support and encouragement to patients to participate, as your patient is more likely to have a breast screen if you recommend it to them.
- This Guide (PDF) provides information for GP's about BreastScreen NSW.
- Encourage your patients to use this free service and book online through our website: book.breastscreen.nsw.gov.au or by calling 13 20 50.
- Free promotional resources for your practice can be ordered from BreastScreen NSW.
- Access the Breast Screening Module within Primary Care Cancer Control Quality Improvement Toolkit to learn more about QI activities that provide a patient centred approach to increase breast screening participation in your practice, while earning CPD points.
A free, 20-minute breast screen could save your patients life.
For more information, please contact your local BreastScreen NSW service on 13 20 50.
July 2023 program news and updates
The Primary Care Cancer Control Quality Improvement Toolkit is an easy-to-follow roadmap for improving cancer screening and prevention activities in your practice or health service.
Each module provides guidance for steps required to promote patient-centred care and guide a team-based approach to quality improvement, utilising data and systems to increase participation in national cancer screening programs and preventive programs to reduce cancer risk.
On completion, five continuous professional development hours of self-directed learning can be claimed by documenting your learning and activities. See an example template from AHPRA here (under Appendix 1).
June 2023 program news and updates
World Refugee Day allows us to celebrate the resilience of people from a refugee background and reflect on how we can support them to ‘not only survive but also thrive’.1
Many refugee patients that you see have been forced to flee their home and are at various stages of rebuilding their lives in a new country. ‘GPs are often the first and main point of contact between refugees and the healthcare system’.2
Preventive health measures like cancer screening will be unfamiliar to some people from refugee backgrounds and should be explained.3
Recent consultations by the Cancer Institute NSW and partners found that people from refugee backgrounds said they would be motivated to screen if their GP had a conversation with them. People said an explanation from their GP would help them to understand the importance of screening and feel comfortable completing screening tests.4
Conducting MBS-covered Refugee Health Assessments is encouraged and would allow time to discuss and explain cancer screening to new patients.
The Australian Refugee Health Practice Guide recommends that you offer a Refugee Health Assessment to ‘every child, adolescent and adult from a refugee background who is new to your care’.5
This Refugee Health Assessment template is endorsed by the RACGP and published by Victorian Refugee Health Network.
- Learn more about World Refugee Day
- Refugee Health Assessment template - endorsed by the RACGP
- Refugee Health Assessment guide in the Australian Refugee Health Practice Guide
- Health Professional information from NSW Refugee Health Service
2. SWSLHD - NSW Refugee Health Services
3. SWSLHD - NSW Refugee Health Services
4. [unpublished] Data derived from 17 focus group conversations with 161 people from the Refugee Cancer Screening Project, Cancer Institute NSW.
Direct Access Colonoscopy (DAC) is a NSW Health Leading Better Value Care initiative that focuses on improving timely access to public colonoscopy services following a positive bowel cancer screening test. DAC services aim to reduce barriers commonly faced by patients including:
- extended wait times for colonoscopy
- unnecessary face-to-face outpatient clinic appointments
- time spent travelling to specialists/outpatient appointments
- out-of-pocket costs for private specialist room appointments.
A DAC service aims to mitigate the impact of these barriers by allowing clinically eligible patients to be assessed over the telephone by a Clinical Nurse Consultant. A nurse-led telephone triage assessment enables patients meeting the inclusion criteria to be referred directly to a DAC service, while also allowing specialist clinic time to be directed to more complex patients. DAC services require a well-structured and protocolised triage and assessment pathway which assures safe, independent assessment by nursing staff with specialist oversight.
In 2022, a process evaluation was undertaken aimed at understanding the extent to which implementation of DAC has progressed as planned and to identify potential achievements against expected short-term outcomes.
Key enablers to implementation included executive buy-in, having the right people in roles at the right time and support and guidance from the Cancer Institute NSW.
Key barriers to implementation included the existence of alternative services, lack of funding/resourcing, and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most services reported high levels of engagement with primary care, although there are opportunities for increased engagement in view of COVID-19 impacts easing.
There are currently 19 DAC services across NSW, with plans for further services in development.
General practitioners (GPs) can refer their patients to a local DAC service via their local Health Pathways portal.
The table below outlines the available DAC services in NSW.
|Primary Health Network (PHN)||DAC Service available at:|
|Central and Eastern Sydney|
|Hunter New England and Central Coast|
|Nepean Blue Mountains||Blue Mountains Hospital|
|North Coast||Coffs Harbour|
|South Eastern NSW||Queanbeyan|
|South Western Sydney|
Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer.
Yet, it’s also one of the most treatable cancers, with more than 90% of cases successfully treated if found early.
A late-stage bowel cancer diagnosis does not have the same positive outcomes, so encouraging eligible people to screen every two years is key.
The bowel screening test is accurate, cost effective, non-invasive, and is the front line for bowel cancer screening in people who are asymptomatic or at average-risk. It is a simple test that is done at home. It looks for invisible traces of blood in poo, which could be a sign of cancer or a pre-cancerous growth.
General practitioners can now hand out kits
We know that patients are more likely to do the test when it has been discussed with a trusted healthcare professional who can explain how to do the test and why it is important.
Encouraging your patients aged 50 to 74 to screen for bowel cancer just got easier, with the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program now enabling healthcare providers to bulk order program kits and to hand kits to eligible patients. It is critical that all kits handed to patients are recorded in the National Cancer Screening Register. This ensures results are tested, sent to the correct address, along with other automated functions such as invitations and reminders to screen.
Please note: the National Bowel Cancer Screening Programs current mailout model will continue in parallel.
How to get started in your practice
Visit the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program’s website to learn more about getting started with the alternative access to kits model.
May 2023 program news and updates
BreastScreen NSW has developed a quick reference guide for General Practitioners and Practice Nurses about routine breast screening.
General Practitioners and Practice Nurses play an important role in providing support and encouragement for patients to participate in the BreastScreen NSW program.
This infographic highlights eligibility and the screening and assessment pathway, and the new recommended screening age for Aboriginal women.
March/April 2023 program news and updates
The cervical screening webpages on the Institute’s website have been revamped and updated to include the most recent information about cervical screening.
Women are more likely to undertake cervical screening at the recommendation of their health professional, or if their health professional has discussed screening with them.
There is a section dedicated to health professionals that includes information about supporting your patients in cervical screening, self-collection key messages and cervical screening during pregnancy.
Direct Access Colonoscopy (DAC) Services in NSW
Direct Access Colonoscopy (DAC) is a NSW Health Leading Better Value Care initiative that focuses on improving timely access to public colonoscopy services following a positive bowel cancer screening test called an immunochemical faecal occult blood test, or iFOBT.
DAC services aim to reduce barriers commonly faced by patients including:
- extended wait times for colonoscopy;
- unnecessary face-to-face outpatient clinic appointments;
- time spent travelling to specialists/outpatient appointments;
- out-of-pocket costs for private specialist room appointments.
A DAC service aims to mitigate the impact of these barriers by allowing clinically eligible patients to be assessed over the telephone by a clinical nurse consultant, rather than attending a face-to-face appointment with a specialist. A nurse-led telephone triage assessment enables patients meeting the inclusion criteria to be referred directly to a DAC service, whilst also allowing specialist clinic time to be directed to more complex patients.
DAC services require a well-structured and protocolised triage and assessment pathway which assures safe, independent assessment by nursing staff with specialist oversight. The service also enables direct colonoscopy booking for patients meeting the inclusion criteria.
There are currently 19 DAC services across NSW, with plans for further services in development.
General Practitioners (GPs) can refer their patients to a local DAC service via their local HealthPathways portal. In most cases, districts have developed a specific DAC referral form and localised inclusion criteria for GPs to use.
The table below outlines the available DAC services in NSW.
|Local Health District (LHD)||DAC Service available at:|
|Central Coast LHD||Gosford Hospital|
|Far West LHD||Broken Hill|
|Hunter New England LHD||John Hunter Hospital|
|Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD||In development|
|Mid North Coast LHD||Coffs Harbour|
|Nepean Blue Mountains LHD||Blue Mountains Hospital|
|Northern Sydney LHD||Ryde|
|South Eastern Sydney LHD||St. George and Sutherland|
|South Western Sydney LHD||Liverpool|
|Southern NSW LHD||Queanbeyan|
|St Vincent's Hospital Network||Darlinghurst|
|Sydney LHD||Camperdown (RPA) and Concord|
|Western NSW LHD||Orange and Dubbo|
|Western Sydney LHD||Blacktown and Westmead|
For further information please contact Alexandra Crocker, DAC Project Implementation Lead Alexandra.Crocker@health.nsw.gov.au.
February 2023 program news and updates
Biennial screening mammography recommended for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 40–74 years
BreastScreen NSW aims to reduce morbidity and mortality from breast cancer through early detection.
BreastScreen NSW is delivering a pilot, PUTUWA: The BreastScreen NSW Aboriginal women age project, and is now recommending that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women screen every two years from age 40–74.
Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in Aboriginal women and the second most common cause of death. Aboriginal women are less likely to participate in routine breast screening than non-Aboriginal women and are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at a higher rate than the overall NSW female population.
The project aims to increase participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in routine breast screening. A key element is communications targeting Aboriginal women aged 40–74 in NSW, the Aboriginal health workforce and GPs.
Your assistance to share this information with relevant networks is appreciated.
Note that the recommended screening age for non-Aboriginal women remains 50–74 years.
Thank you for your ongoing support of BreastScreen NSW. Please contact your local BreastScreen NSW service on 13 20 50 for more information.
2022 program news and updates
Own It - ACON to launch a new cervical screening campaign in January
ACON's Own It campaign aims to empower young women and people with a cervix aged 25-35 to make their Cervical Screening Test their own, by choosing how to screen.
The campaign is based on the experiences of real people who have made choices about how their Cervical Screening Test is done, to overcome barriers. Their choices include self-collection, bringing a friend, inserting the speculum themselves, finding a doctor they could trust, talking to others, and educating themselves to address misinformation.
Focus testing found low awareness of the self-collection but when presented as an option there was strong interest. Self-collection has the potential to prompt young women and people with a cervix to screen, including those who are overdue or never screened.
However, testing also highlighted the importance of health services being prepared and willing to provide the self-collection option. Denial of the self-collection option may negatively impact the screening experience and propensity for people to re-test regularly.
Own It will launch on Monday 16 January and run through February. The campaign is inclusive of all people with a cervix regardless of gender, sexuality, cultural background, or ability.
The Own It campaign is part of ACON’s Can We cancer programs brand. It is a partnership with and funded by Cancer Institute NSW.
How primary carers can support the campaign
We encourage you support the campaign by ordering and displaying campaign posters (A3 or A4) for your practice or service. Email: email@example.com.
National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week 2022
National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week will be held during the 7-13th November an annual campaign to increase cervical cancer screening rates.
In the very small number of cases where cervical cancer is detected, early diagnosis through screening greatly improves the chances of treatment being successful.
By detecting HPV infection - which usually causes no symptoms - screening identifies women at risk of eventually developing cervical cancer, so they can be monitored and treated accordingly.
The National Cervical Screening Program reduces illness and death from cervical cancer. Women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 74 years of age are invited to have a Cervical Screening Test every 5 years through their healthcare provider.
The National Cervical Screening Program has developed a Healthcare provider toolkit. This toolkit contains resources and information to help healthcare providers engage under-screened people and encourage them to participation in cervical screening. Healthcare providers can print every product and resource in the toolkit.
Cervical screening and female genital mutilation
7-13 November 2022 is Cervical Cancer Awareness Week and a time to reflect on how we can improve our approach to one of the most preventable types of cancer.1
Women who have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM) have higher levels of cervical cancer2 and human papilloma virus (the main precursor to cervical cancer).3
Female genital mutilation is the practice of partial or complete removal of the external female organs, which is rooted strongly in tradition.4 FGM is internationally recognised as a violation of human rights. It can cause many severe health consequences such as sepsis, chronic pain and infections, infertility, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and complications in childbirth.
The practice of female genital mutilation is illegal in Australia. Many Australians also migrated from countries that practice FGM, mainly from Africa and the Middle East. However, some women may not be aware that they have undergone FGM, so cervical screening provides an opportunity for FGM to be identified by health care providers.
Cervical screening is an important and sensitive consideration for women who have undergone FGM. There are both barriers and opportunities afforded by the new guidelines around self-collection.
View the NSW Education Program on FGM to learn about providing care to women who have undergone FGM. The NSW Education Program provides a one-day training workshop (with CPD points) for healthcare professionals.
Resources and networks in NSW:
- NSW Education Program on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) - contact the NSW FGM Program (02) 9840 4182 or (02) 9840 3877
- Family Planning NSW - 1300 658 886
- STARTTS: Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors - (02) 9794 1900
FGM is illegal in every state and territory of Australia. This includes sending a person overseas to have a procedure done, or facilitating, supporting or encouraging some to have this done. If you are concerned about the safety of a female baby, a girl or woman who is at risk of female genital mutilation in NSW or being taken out of NSW or Australia for this purpose, you can contact:
- NSW Police - 000
- NSW FGM Program (02) 9840 4182 or (02) 9840 3877
- Child Protection Helpline -132 111
For more information:
Contact Nina Hartcher at Nina.Hartcher@health.nsw.gov.au.
2. WHO, author. Understanding and addressing violence against women: Female genital mutilation. 2012. [19th June, 2017]. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/77428/1/WHO_RHR_12.41_eng.pdf.
3. Ogah J, Kolawole O, Awelimobor D. High risk human papilloma virus (HPV) common among a cohort of women with female genital mutilation. Afr Health Sci. 2019 Dec;19(4):2985-2992. doi: 10.4314/ahs.v19i4.19. PMID: 32127873; PMCID: PMC7040333.
4. NSW Education Program of Female Genital Mutilation.
Remind women to book a mammogram for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase screening rates for breast cancer.
According to recent research undertaken by BreastScreen NSW, having a conversation about breast screening is crucial as women aged 50-74 are more likely to get a mammogram if it is recommended by their GPs.
Anthea Temple, BreastScreen NSW Program Manager, is encouraging GPs and Practice Nurses to help boost breast screening numbers, this October “Although a medical referral is not required, we know that GPs and practice nurses have a significant influence on a woman’s decision to screen. You play a central role in supporting and encouraging eligible women to book and attend a breast screening appointment.”
You make a key difference in detecting breast cancer early
Some women are reluctant to have a mammogram. They may be embarrassed about the nature of the procedure or feel anxious about pain or discomfort. By supporting your patients and encouraging eligible women to participate in breast screening, you can make a key difference in a woman’s decision to attend.
For women aged 50-74, a mammogram is the best way to detect breast cancer early, before they or you notice a change. Early detection is the key to improving survival rates, treatment and recovery from breast cancer.
Since the introduction of the BreastScreen program in 1991, there has been a sharp decline in breast cancer-related deaths, due to the combination of earlier detection, and advances in management and treatment.1 Women whose cancers are detected by BreastScreen NSW are less likely to need a mastectomy, compared with women whose breast cancers are found after seeing a doctor to investigate symptoms.2
BreastScreen NSW provides free breast screening for women from 40 years. Women aged 50 – 74 years are invited to screen every two years.
Women can call 13 20 50 to book an appointment or book online.
BreastScreen NSW program is designed for asymptomatic women and not appropriate for the investigation of symptoms. Patients with symptoms should be referred for diagnostic investigation as per the recommended pathway.
Thank you for your support of the BreastScreen NSW program. For more information visit BreastScreen NSW.
For more information, contact:
Trudy Phelps, Relationship Manager, BreastScreen NSW Trudy.Phelps@health.nsw.gov.au
 2002, IARC Handbook of Cancer Prevention – Breast Cancer Screening
 Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Evaluation of the BreastScreen Australia Program — Evaluation Final Report (pages 49–50). Screening Monograph No.1/2009. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing, June 2009.
‘What is Cancer Screening’ brochure new translations available in 15 languages
The ‘What is Cancer Screening?’ resource, has now been translated into 15 more languages by Multicultural Health Communication Service. This brings the total languages available to 37, with an additional version produced specifically for Aboriginal communities.
Self-collection now available for cervical screening
A new way for people to take part in the Cervical Screening Test started from 1 July, with self-collection now available to everybody across Australia.
Anyone eligible for a Cervical Screening Test under the NCSP (women and people with a cervix aged 25–74) now has the choice to screen either through self-collection of a vaginal sample using a simple swab (unless a co-test is indicated), or clinician-collection of a sample from the cervix using a speculum.
Pene Manolas, Cervical Screening Program Manager at Cancer Institute NSW, says the new policy has the potential to help more people prevent cervical cancer.
“We know that many people have never screened or are very overdue, and we hope the new collection method could be the encouragement they need to book in,” Ms Manolas explains.
“Self-collection can help breakdown potential barriers of pain or shame and offer empowerment for people to screen themselves.”
All participants now have the choice to screen using either a clinician collected sample from the cervix or a self-collected vaginal sample, both accessed through healthcare providers.
HPV testing using self-collected vaginal samples is as accurate as using a clinician-collected sample from the cervix.
Self-collection swab - range of collection devices and methods available to use for self-collection of a vaginal sample for cervical screening. Meaning, different laboratories may have varying collection and handling instructions and requirements. Healthcare providers should contact their local pathology laboratory.
Self-collection must be ordered and overseen by a healthcare provider who can also ensure timely clinician-collection of a cervical sample for liquid-based cytology (LBC) if required as part of a follow-up assessment.
There are a range of resources available on the National Cancer Screening Program website including explainer and instructional videos, information sheets, visual guides, and quick reference guides. Resources are available for:
- general audiences
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- culturally and linguistically diverse people
- healthcare providers
NAIDOC Week 2022 Get up! Stand up! Show up!
This year NAIDOC week will be celebrated between 3-10 July.
Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! Is the theme for NAIDOC week 2022 and supports the importance of narrowing the gap between aspiration and reality, good intent and outcomes.
NAIDOC Week events are held to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of our First Nations Peoples. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal community.
Between 1998 and 2014 mortality from cancer has increased for Aboriginal people by 21%, while for non-Indigenous people it has decreased by 13%. GPs can play a vital role in prevention and early detection of cancer in Aboriginal people and help stem rising deaths1. This can be achieved by ensuring cancer prevention and screening questions are integrated in Aboriginal Health Checks (715).
Improving cultural safety throughout the cancer pathway for Aboriginal people is a key priority for the Cancer Institute NSW and the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW. This will contribute to “closing the gap” and ensuring better equity of access and outcomes to cancer treatment.
We all have a role to work together in closing the gap and improving outcomes for Aboriginal communities.
Learn more about participation in NAIDOC week events at www.naidoc.org.au/
For more information, contact:
Kathryn Duggan, Primary Care Strategic Advisor, Cancer Institute NSW: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please refer to the Primary Care updates webpage online for previous articles posted - https://www.cancer.nsw.gov.au/what-we-do/working-with-primary-care/primary-care-updates
If you have any queries about this process, please email email@example.com
 2002, IARC Handbook of Cancer Prevention – Breast Cancer Screening
 Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Evaluation of the BreastScreen Australia Program — Evaluation Final Report (pages 49–to50). Screening Monograph No.1/2009. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing, June 2009.
Bowel Cancer Screening – Take the test out of the drawer and do it
With bowel cancer set to kill more than 1800 people in NSW this year, there is concern that life screening tests could be left sitting in drawers.
The Cancer Institute NSW estimates that between January and June this year more than 100,000 potentially life-saving free bowel cancer screening kits were sent out and have not been returned.
In our communications this month we are highlighting that many people receive the bowel cancer screening test kit in the mail and stick it in a drawer to think about later.
There could be more than 100,000 of these life-saving kits sitting in junk drawers next to old phone chargers and pizza flyers.
We are urging people to get that test out of the drawer and do it.
Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in NSW. But if it’s found early it can be successfully treated in more than 90 per cent of cases.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program sends a bowel cancer screening test kit to all eligible Australians aged 50 to 74, every two years.
The single biggest risk factor for getting bowel cancer is getting older. People in their early 50s have significantly lower screening rates compared to older age groups.
General practitioners can encourage their patients to:
- Do the test when it comes in the mail , don’t put it in the drawer for later
- Order a replacement test from the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR)
The NCSR enables general practitioners to access view patients screening histories, check their information and order a bowel screening kit. The NCSR is accessible through:
- HealthCare Provider Portal
- Integrated clinical software, Best Practice (Saffron), Medical Director 4.0 and Communicare 21.3
For more information accessing the HealthCare provider portal or the integrated clinical software:
National Cancer Screening Register
For more information on bowel cancer screening visit:
For local data on participation the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program visit:
National Cervical Screening Program Update: Self Collection Policy Change
The self-collection policy will be changing from July 2022. From 1st of July all women and people with a cervix screening under the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) will have the choice to screen using either a self-collected vaginal sample or a clinician-collected sample.
Primary health professionals will maintain a central role in consulting with women about the option of self-collection. To support the self-collection policy change, the NCSP: Guidelines for the management of screen-detected abnormalities, screening in specific populations and investigation of abnormal vaginal bleeding have been reviewed and updated.
You can access the updated guidelines on the Cancer Council Australia website or download a PDF version using this link. The partial update to the guidelines has been informed by best available evidence and will come into effect on 1 July 2022.
As cervical screening saves lives, this expanded choice in screening options has the potential to increase participation in cervical screening further.
National Cervical Screening Program resources including fact sheets and education modules will be made available to health professionals in the coming months.
Find out about the Cancer Institute NSW and Royal College of General Practitioners upcoming webinar on self-collection.
Refugee Week – Are we providing the best care we can?
Refugee Week, a national event, is next month, from 19th June to 25th June. In Refugee Week we celebrate the positive contributions of refugees to Australia. Refugee Week also gives us a chance to reflect on how we can provide the best possible healthcare to refugees, including the use of Refugee Health Assessments and interpreters.
Refugee communities have “some of the poorest health outcomes”, according to the NSW Refugee Health Service. Refugees and asylum seekers have often experienced persecution, violation of human rights, and deprivation and disruption of basic healthcare.
General practitioners can access Refugee Health Assessments to conduct post-arrival health assessment of people from a refugee background which can be covered under Medicare. In Australia, refugees and other immigrants experience dramatic disparities in cancer screening. Health professionals should recognise the barriers to health-seeking behaviours among refugee populations such as cultural influences and poor knowledge of health services and health systems. It is important that general practitioners identify gaps in a patients’ health care and tailor their healthcare approach to refugees.
General practitioners can use interpreters to communicate with patients who are not fluent in English. To gain priority access to the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS), medical practitioners and allied health professionals can register for the Doctors Priority Line here.
Refugees provide a rich diversity to Australian culture, and with this diversity comes diverse healthcare needs, which we can all consider to improve our practice for refugee communities.
- For more information on primary care for people with a refugee background, visit the NSW Refugee Health Service website
- For support on using interpreters, you can view the practical guide called “Engaging Interpreters in Cancer Settings” in the Cancer Institute NSW’s primary care toolkit.
- At the end of 2020, 82.4 million people were forcibly displaced globally
- Australia’s Humanitarian Program grants 13,750 visas per year to refugees and asylum seekers. This was reduced from 18,750 in 2020.
- Due to COVID-19, only 5974 visas were granted in 2020-2021.
Quick Stats: Refugees in NSW 2015-2020
- 30,000 humanitarian visas
- Most common countries: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar
- 92% had poor or no English proficiency
- ¼ were children under 11 years
For more information, contact:
Nina Hartcher – Project Officer: Nina.Hartcher@health.nsw.gov.au
Integration of The National Cancer Screening Register with GP practice software
Primary health care providers are important partners in the promotion and delivery of cancer screening programs. Understanding your patient population and who is participating in the National cervical and bowel screening programs, is vital in enhancing participation.
The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) is now integrated with most clinical information systems to enable healthcare providers to access and report clinical data for the National Cancer Screening Register from existing clinical information systems, including Best Practice Saffron (Jan 2021), Medical Director 4.0 (Aug 2021) and Communicare (Dec 2021).
Healthcare providers who integrate their Clinical Information System with the NCSR have better access to screening histories for their patients and can interact with the NCSR directly. To integrate the NSCR with GP practice software, practices are required to complete one linkage for authentication via PRODA account. Once integration is complete, the practice will have access to all the functionalities of the healthcare provider portal whilst working within their practice management system.
GP practices can access support from an NCSR specialist. Book your walk through with an NCSR specialist using this link. Please don’t delay the NCSR are there to help.
Visit Cancer Screening and Primary Care for information and resources to support enhancement in cancer screening for your community.
For more information, contact:
Kath Duggan – Primary Care Strategic Advisor Kathryn.Duggan@health.nsw.gov.au
Report shows Cervical screening rates need to improve
In December 2021 the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released the National Cancer Screening Program Monitoring Report1 inclusive of data captured for women aged 25-74 screened under the renewed 5-year program.
Whilst participation in the new 5-year program cannot properly be reported until 5 years of data is available, preliminary estimates have demonstrated that there is a significant level of under screened women both nationally and at the NSW state level.
For the first 3 years, 2018-2020 the national cervical screening participation rate was 56% for women aged between 25 and 74. NSW was below the national average with a participation rate of 54%. This leaves 46% of women aged between 25-74 overdue for cervical screening and at risk of delayed Human Papillomavirus (HPV) detection.
There is a demonstrated need to increase cervical screening participation within NSW to reduce preventable cervical cancer incidence and mortality. As the frontline of healthcare, primary care professionals have a critical role in both providing women with cervical screening and empowering their patients with knowledge about the benefits of screening. Actively engaging with your overdue patients in a conversation about cervical screening will have a significant impact on increasing participation rates. Here is some information on how to support patients in cervical screening.
ALERT: Cervical screening self-collection policy will be changing from July 2022
From 1 July 2022, the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) will expand screening test options, offering self-collection as a choice to all people participating in cervical screening. Recent evidence2 demonstrates a Cervical Screening Test using a self-collected vaginal sample is as accurate as a clinician-collected sample taken from the cervix during a speculum examination. Primary health professionals will maintain a central role in consulting with women about the option of self-collection and facilitating the self-collection pathway.
More information to follow in the April Primary Care Update.
For any queries, please contact Teresa Fisher, Relationship Manager Cervical Screening: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2021. National Cervical Screening Program monitoring report 2021. Cancer series 134. Cat. no. CAN 141. Canberra: AIHW.
2. Arbyn, M., et al., Detecting cervical precancer and reaching underscreened women by using HPV testing on self samples: updated meta-analyses. BMJ, 2018. 363: p. k4823
Announcing the Refugee Cancer Screening Partnership Project
Harmony Day, on Monday 21st March this year, celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity and encourages respect and inclusiveness for all Australians, including those from refugee and migrant communities. More information can be found on the Australian Government website. Cancer Institute NSW is delighted to announce the commencement of the Refugee Cancer Screening Partnership Project, which will focus on improving the inclusion of Middle Eastern and Sub-Saharan refugee communities in Australia’s national cancer screening programs.
Cancer Institute NSW, along with partner agencies NSW Refugee Health Service and Settlement Council of Australia, is leading a multi-agency partnership project that aims to create awareness and improve participation of Middle Eastern and Sub-Saharan refugee communities in Cervical, Breast, and Bowel Cancer Screening Programs. Settlement agencies from across NSW will be engaged to work with local communities, including STARTTS, Illawarra Multicultural Services, Northern Settlement Services and Metro Assist Inc.
As Primary health care providers are essential partners in cancer screening, this project will involve Primary Health Networks, Medical Associations and primary health care providers in the governance of this project. The findings will be promoted on a national level to improve our understanding of best practice for cancer screening in refugee communities.
For more information, please contact Nina Hartcher: Nina.Hartcher@health.nsw.gov.au
Primary Care and National Close the Gap Day
National Close the Gap Day will be observed on Thursday 17 March this year. The Close the Gap campaign advocates for health equity of Australia’s indigenous people and educates the public about the health issues and barriers to well-being faced by them.
The campaign is aimed at improving the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, whose life expectancy is 10–17 years lower than that of non-indigenous Australians. In addition to access to healthcare, other factors including poverty, education, and employment have an impact on the well-being of indigenous groups.
Actions must be taken in all of these areas to raise the standard of living for indigenous people and close the gap in healthcare and access to health resources.
Close the Gap advocates for health care choice and access, a responsive healthcare system that is sensitive to cultural and linguistic differences, and safe housing that promotes good health.
Primary Care can help reduce cancer rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
Between 1998 and 2014 mortality from cancer has increased for Indigenous people by 21%, while for non-Indigenous people it has decreased by 13%. GPs can play a vital role in prevention and early detection of cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and help stem rising deaths1.
Improving culturally appropriate and safe cancer support throughout the cancer pathway for Aboriginal people is a key priority for Cancer Institute NSW (the Institute) and the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC) and the contributing to “closing the gap” and better equity of access and outcomes in regard to cancer treatment.
In NSW approximately 50% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people access Indigenous-specific primary health care services, with the other 50% access general primary health care services2. Asking all your clients about Indigenous status is particularly important as GPs have a very important role to play in prevention and early detection of cancer.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health checks (715-health check) ensure that Indigenous Australians receive primary health care matched to their needs. The 715-health check encourages early detection, diagnosis and intervention for chronic disease, including cancer, that causes morbidity and early death. Incorporating cancer screening into these checks is an excellent way to lift cancer screening participation rates among people who may have an increased risk of cancer due to age and/or lifestyle risk factors.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN NATIONAL CLOSE THE GAP DAY
1. People often have inequitable access to health resources, making them more susceptible to disease and poor health outcomes. Identify clients who are most at risk and how you can help support programs that improve healthcare
2. RACGP has developed a useful resource for general practices to improve their identification processes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. You can access resources online here.
3. Ensure your Primary Care team has undertaken cultural awareness and cultural safety training. Read the RACGP’s Cultural awareness training and cultural safety training guidelines for more information on training options
4. Take the opportunity to audit your client records and recall those identified to be of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent and extend an invitation to complete an Aboriginal health check (715) if due or overdue. Take this opportunity to promote participation in cancer screening and lifestyle modification actions such as quit smoking.
For more information, contact Alisha McInerney: email@example.com
1. GPs can help reduce cancer rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/gps-can-help-reduce-high-rates-of-cancer-in-aborig
2. AIHW and ABS analysis of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2018–19 https://www.indigenoushpf.gov.au/measures/3-17-regular-gp-health-service
Bowel Cancer Screening campaign relaunch
Primary health care providers are important partners in the promotion and delivery of cancer screening programs. Research shows that a primary health care provider recommending or endorsing bowel cancer screening increases participation in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.
The campaign was launched in 2021 featuring Dr. Norman Swan encouraging people aged 50-74 to Do the Test when it arrives in the mail, as if detected early, bowel cancer can be successfully treated in more than 90% of cases.
This year the campaign will run from 6 February to 28 May 2022, and be expanded to include out of home advertising and some additional social media content.
Discover more about the new ‘Do the test’ campaign HERE
An important message about BreastScreen NSW
The BreastScreen NSW service is open. Some services are affected by the impact of COVID-19 on staffing and the need to redeploy staff to support the local pandemic response.
BreastScreen North Coast which services Northern NSW and Mid North Coast Local Health Districts (LHD), has temporarily closed screening sites at Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Port Macquarie and Tweed Heads, and mobile van screening locations in the region. Clients will be contacted about any change to appointments.
All other services are currently operating.
If you have any questions about appointments or the availability of your local service, please call 13 20 50 or for further information please visit BreastScreen NSW's website.