Secondary prevention strategies use screening and early detection programs in an attempt to identify cancer early in its development, to reduce the morbidity and mortality by improving the outcome of disease that has already developed.3 Population screening differs from opportunistic screening or diagnostic screening. For example, screening mammography is used to detect lesions in ‘well’ women who do not have symptoms, with the emphasis on ‘benefit to the population’. Diagnostic screening is done when a woman presents with symptoms, thus benefitting the individual.
The Australian Government has developed a Population Based Screening Framework, based on the World Health Organization (WHO) principles of screening. The aim of the Screening Framework is to provide guidance for decision makers when considering potential population based screening programs in Australia.24 Population-wide screening programs currently exist in Australia for the early detection of breast, cervical and bowel cancers. There is evidence to suggest an association between reduced breast cancer mortality and the introduction of the BreastScreen Australia program and the extremely low cervical cancer mortality rate is attributed to the effectiveness of the National Cervical Screening Program.24 Disparities in the screening and mortality rates for women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds indicate that a range of further initiatives are required to engage these groups. 24
Principles of screening. National Cancer Prevention Policy, Cancer Council Australia, 201414
Population based screening framework. Australian Population Health Development Principal Committee Screening Subcommittee, 2008.24
Early detection of cancer. World Health Organisation, 2012.
Access the cancerscreening.gov.au website, and:
- Summarise how one of the current national screening programs (e.g., breast, cervical, or colon) meets the requirements for a population screening program.
- Summarise strategies used within one of the screening programs to promote equitable access for all population groups.
Access the EdCaN colorectal cancer case based learning resource, John’s story 2: screening, and complete the associated learning activities.