Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in Australia, yet if found early 90% of bowel cancers can be treated successfully. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander participation in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) is low in comparison to the non-Indigenous population.
The lower uptake of screening by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people may lead to bowel cancer being diagnosed at more advanced stages when treatment is less likely to be successful. According to data from the AIHW, only 1 in 5 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 to 74 take part in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program – less than half the rate of non-Indigenous Australians.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst Victorian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women.
Incidence of cervical cancer in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women is more than two times that of non-Indigenous women, and mortality more than three times the non-Indigenous rate.1
There is limited data on the cervical screening participation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women, as this is not routinely collected and reported across Australia. However, recent data from the National Cervical Screening Program shows that just 27% of regular female Indigenous clients had a cervical screening test in the past two years.1
A data linkage study in Queensland demonstrated that two-year participation was more than 20% lower for Indigenous women than for non-Indigenous women there.2 It is likely that the higher incidence of and mortality from cervical cancer amongst Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women is linked to under-screening and late detection of pre-cancerous lesions and HPV.
1. Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, Cervical screening in Australia 2019
2. Whop LJ et al. The first comprehensive report on Indigenous Australian women's inequalities in cervical screening: A retrospective registry cohort study in Queensland, Australia (2000-2011). Cancer, 2016. 122 (10): p. 1560-9.