International and Australian data indicates that screening participation is lower across all three cancer screening programs for people with disabilities, with studies dominated by those focused on people with intellectual disabilities.
The three screening programs operate in different ways; therefore, different information is available for each one.
Participants return a detail form with their completed screening kits, which asks them to self-identify as being an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, having a disability or speaking a language other than English at home. Census data is used to provide the denominator and nearly 30% of respondents failed to answer the question about disability status. Thus, this method only allows for estimates of participation by those with a disability.
The most recent study of health and intellectual disability by the Department of Health and Human Services in Victoria in 2013 identified that cervical screening participation rates were lower among women with intellectual disability aged 18 to 39 years (17.4% cf 83.7%) and 40 to 59 years (13.8% cf 75.9%).1 The sample size was too small to give a reliable estimate for women over 60.
Information about the women taking part is restricted to what is collected on the pathology slip when a test is taken. Date-of-birth and postcode information is held on the Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry which can be used to look at participation by age, location, and socio-economic status, but not other demographics such as disability.
Reported data on mammogram indicate that 91.1% of women aged over 60 with intellectual disability have had a mammogram in the past two years; however only 69.6% reported ever having had a mammogram. For women aged 50 to 59, 78.1% indicated that they had had a mammogram in the past two years, and 61.3% had ever had a mammogram.1
1. https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/population-health-systems/health-status-of-victorians/survey-data-and-reports/health-survey-of-people-with-an-intellectual-disability/health-survey-of-people-with-an-intellectual-disability-2013. Accessed July 2019