Cancer Screening


  • BreastScreen Victoria
  • Bowel Cancer Screening Register
  • Cancer Council Victoria - Resources for Health Professionals
  • The national Cervical Screening Program is being renewed from 1 May 2017. Key changes are:
    • women will be invited when they are due to participate via the National Cancer Screening Register
    • the Pap smear will be replaced with the more accurate Cervical Screening Test
    • the time between tests will change from two to five years
    • the age at which screening starts will increase from 18 years to 25 years
    • women aged 70 to 74 years will be invited to have an exit test.
    • Full details and FAQs are here

Optimal Care Pathways

SEMPHN is part of a state-wide initiative to develop Optimal Care Pathways for lung and colorectal cancer, which map a patient’s journey for specific tumour types. Planning, adoption and evaluation of the Optimal Care Pathways project is underway and aims to guide the delivery of consistent, safe, high quality and evidence-based care for people with cancer.

Related reading:


Across South Eastern Melbourne, the cervical screening participation rate is slightly higher than the Victorian average (Figure 1), while breast and bowel screening participation in SEMPHN is lower than the Victorian average. The local government areas of Port Phillip and Stonnington have participation rates for breast screening among the five lowest in the state. Casey and Frankston have rates for bowel screening among the five lowest in the state.

Cancer screening participation rates in SEMPHN region


Two-year cervical cancer screening participation

(1st January 2012 - 32st December 2013)

Two-year breast cancer screening participation

(1st July 2010 - 30th June 2012)

One-year bowel cancer screening participation

(1st July 2013 - 30th June 2014)

Victoria 59.2% 54.0% 37.6%
SEMPHN * 61.1% 51.7% 34.9%
Bayside 72.7% 53.8% 38.2%
Cardinia 57.6% 55.1% 35.6%
Casey 56.1% 52.7% 32.8%
Frankston 54.3% 49.4% 32.2%
Glen Eira 62.9% 53.8% 33.2%
Greater Dandenong 54.9% 51.2% 33.7%
Kingston 61.8% 53.3% 36.4%
Mornington Peninsula 64.2% 54.6% 38.6%
Port Phillip 61.9% 45.2% 34.1%
Stonnington 65.0% 48.3% 35.1%

* SEMPHN participation rate is calculated on an average of the 10 listed LGAs.

LGAs below the state average

Among the five lowest LGAs in the state

Note on data: These rates reflect participation in national cancer screening programs and do not include other screening, for example private mammography or faecal occult blood test (FOBTs) undertaken outside the program. It is unclear how much screening outside the national cancer screening programs affects participation rates and if, for example, the use of private mammography in high-SES areas like, Port Philip and Stonington, contribute to lower national program participation rates.

Clinical Practice Guidelines for the prevention, early detection and management of colorectal cancer 2017

The National Health and Medical Research Council have approved the 2017 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention, Early Detection and Management of Colorectal Cancer.  

These Guidelines provide information and recommendations to guide practice across the continuum of bowel cancer care including prevention, screening and diagnosis, clinical aspects of surgery, treatment, follow-up and psychosocial care.

The evidence overwhelmingly supports the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program as the best model for population screening in Australia:

The recommended strategy for population screening in Australia, directed at those of average risk of bowel cancer and without relevant symptoms, is immunochemical faecal occult blood testing every two years, starting at age 50 years and continuing to age 74 years.

Importantly, the Guidelines advise GPs to discourage over-screening using colonoscopy. Inappropriate use of colonoscopy as a screening method increases demand on hospital services and exposes patients to increased risk of harm.

The Guidelines recognise the critical role of GPs in supporting this life-saving Program. Encouragement by GPs and practice staff substantially boosts participation in screening, and can increase the Program’s effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. 

You may wish to provide the fact sheet to practices and health professionals within your area. It outlines the key changes to the Guidelines relating to the Program and how GPs can support the Program in line with the NHMRC’s evidence-based recommendations. This information is also provided on the Program’s website

Please note that the NHMRC Clinical Practice Guidelines for Surveillance Colonoscopy are currently under review. These will focus on the appropriate use of surveillance colonoscopy in patients after removal of adenomas; curative resection for bowel cancer; and inflammatory bowel disease. It is anticipated these will be published in 2018.

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Funding Opportunities

Tenders, Quotes & Expression of Interest Portal

If you’re interested in applying for funding opportunities, register your interest on SEMPHN's Tenderlink page. Once you register, you’ll receive information as it’s released.


Contact Information

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For General Practice support, please call 1300 331 981 (option 2) or email

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