Cancer Council Tasmania today called on all Tasmanians to get up to date with their bowel, breast and cervical screening.Cancer Council Tasmania CEO Penny Egan tells Dave the  data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows fewer Australians are screening in 2020 than previous years.

“The report has shown that between January and June 2020 there were 144,982 fewer mammograms and 443,935 fewer cervical screening tests have been completed, and from January to July 144,379 fewer bowel screening tests returned, compared with previous years and the Tasmanian results were very disturbing.

Cancer Council Tasmania CEO Penny Egan says We know that COVID-19 impacted participation in cancer screening in different ways.

“BreastScreen Australia services temporarily paused in the first stages of the COVID-19 lockdown which saw participation fall significantly, particularly during April. As services have now resumed, we are encouraging anyone who has received an invitation from BreastScreen to make sure they make a booking with their local BreastScreen service.

“The national cervical screening program also saw a decline and while this was expected due to the program transitioning from the two-yearly Pap smear to the five-yearly cervical screening test, the reductions during the COVID-19 lockdown are more than we would have expected.

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“This is likely a result of fewer people attending face-to-face appointments with their GP, and therefore fewer cervical screening tests being completed. This decline is very concerning as it means there is a sizable portion of women who are now overdue for screening.”

Mrs Egan said from January to July 2020, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program has sent over 2.1 million kits to Australians, yet fewer than 700,000 have been returned.

“Currently four in 10 Australians complete their free test after they receive it in the mail. With many of us spending more time than ever at home, if you’ve received a free bowel test, now is the time to complete it.

“We know that COVID-19 has disrupted our lives and some of us may have neglected our regular health checks.

“We are urging Tasmanians to stop putting off any health checks. If you are due or have been invited to participate in the breast, bowel or cervical screening programs, get it done and tick cancer screening off your to do list.”

Screening aims to detect cancers early, either by detecting any early precancerous signs (to stop the cancer developing in the first place) or by detecting cancers when they are small (and treatment options and survival prospects are better). This leads to improved survival for people who participate in screening.

The Screening Saves Lives Campaign – including radio, digital and social media advertising will run throughout Spring. For more information about the campaign visit: www.cancer.org.au