Early cancer detection and screening for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

It’s easy to forget about cancer screening. But detecting cancer early saves lives. Learn more about cancer screening programs and how to enter the Beautiful Shawl competition.

Date published:
General public

Cancer screening saves lives and helps to keep our communities strong, safe, and healthy. Getting checked really does make a big difference. When cancer is found early, treatment can be a lot more effective. 

With COVID-19 on our minds these past few years, you may have forgotten about or put off cancer screening. It’s very important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to keep taking care of our health. And that means, getting screened regularly.

Australia has 3 national cancer screening programs that detect cancer before symptoms appear. The programs are for breast, bowel and cervical cancers:

  • BreastScreen Australia is the national free breast cancer screening program. Women, and people with breasts, aged 50 to 74 should be screened every 2 years.
  • The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) aims to reduce deaths from bowel cancer by detecting early signs of the disease. Bowel cancer is one of the most treatable cancers if it’s found early. The program offers free testing for Australians aged 50 to 74.
  • The National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) aims to prevent cervical cancer with regular testing. You may be more familiar with the term Pap smear. But the cervical screening test has replaced this and is more effective. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. If you’re a woman, or you have a cervix, and you're aged 25 to 74 you should have a cervical screening test every 5 years.

Learn more about cancer screening programs on our website. Or speak to your healthcare provider today about your options.

Enter your art in the Beautiful Shawl Project competition

BreastScreen Victoria and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) are holding numerous art competitions as part of the Beautiful Shawl Project.

It’s open to female First Nation artists of all ages living in these areas:

Winners will have their artwork featured on the breast screen shawl. This shawl will wrap around our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women when having their breasts screened, so they can feel connected to country.

Learn about last year's Beautiful Shawl Project.

Enter by 31 March 2023 (except for Wathaurong, which closes on 28 April).

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