Early Detection and Screening

Cancer screening saves lives

In most cases, treatment can be more effective when cancer is found early.

National screening programs are available in Australia to detect breast cancer, bowel cancer and cervical cancer. So if you have received the kit, now is the time to tick cancer screening off your list.

With COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, some things may have been forgotten or put off – like your screening test or health check-up with your doctor.

The screening programs for bowel, breast and cervix help find cancer early but for other cancers you need to be aware of what is normal for you and don’t put off seeing your doctor if you notice any unusual changes, even during lock-down.

See your doctor if you notice unusual changes like:

  • lumps, sores or ulcers that don't heal.
  • unusual breast changes: lumps, lumpiness, a thickened area, unusual nipple discharge, any changes in the shape or colour of your breasts,
  • a nipple that turns inwards (if it hasn't always been that way) or any unusual pain.
  • coughs or hoarseness that won't go away.
  • changes in toilet habits that last more than two weeks, blood in a bowel motion.
  • new moles or skin spots, or ones that have changed shape, size or colour, or that bleed.
  • unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding.
  • unexplained weight loss.
  • persistent indigestion or difficulty swallowing.

These signs don't necessarily mean you have cancer, but it's important to have them checked out.

For more information, see Cancer Council Australia’s early detection fact sheets, or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

bowel screening