Cancer screening and early detection saves lives. In Australia, we have three national cancer screening programs to help detect bowel, breast and cervical cancer early, when it has a better chance of successful treatment.
On this page you will find information about the three national cancer screening programs for bowel, breast and cervical, and helpful resources about screening. You’ll also find options and advice to make screening more accessible and easier for you to participate.
Cancer screening is for people who feel healthy and who don’t have any obvious symptoms, to help find cancer or risk factors before symptoms appear. The earlier cancer is found, the easier it is to treat, so it is important for everyone to participate in cancer screening when due.
In Australia there are three national screening programs for breast, cervical and bowel cancer. Most people who are in the eligible age group and who have a Medicare card will receive reminders in the mail or from their health care provider to participate in screening.
Research shows that LGBTIQ+ people face unique barriers when it comes to screening. For some screening programs they are less likely to participate meaning they could be at higher risk of developing cancer.
Depending on their variation, the sex assigned at birth or any medical interventions, some people may also not receive screening invitations or reminders for breast or cervical cancer, or may receive notifications that they don’t need.
If you find the idea of screening tests difficult or are unsure if you need to screen, talk to your health care provider. They will provide information about what screening is suitable for you.
Bowel screening information
Over 90 per cent of bowel cancers can be successfully treated when detected early.
If you’re aged between 50 and 74 years, you will receive a free home bowel screening test kit in the mail every two years from the Australian Government as part of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. This test kit will be sent to the address on your Medicare card.
Bowel screening checks for the early warning signs of bowel cancer in people who do not have any obvious symptoms but are at higher risk of bowel cancer because they are in the 50 to 74 age group.
Learn more about bowel cancer and bowel screening
Breast screening information
BreastScreen Victoria offers a safe and inclusive space for people of all genders and sexualities. Eligible women, trans and gender diverse people aged 50 to 74 can book a free 10-minute breast/chest screen with a woman radiographer every two years.
A breast screen is a low-dose x-ray of the breast, which can find cancers that are too small to feel. The sooner cancer is found, the more successful treatment is likely to be.
BreastScreen Victoria is proudly Rainbow Tick accredited. They received their tick in March 2019 – a first for any breast screening service in Australia and a reflection of their ongoing commitment to ensuring a welcoming service for LGBTIQ+ clients.
Visit BreastScreen Victoria’s website to learn more
Cervical screening information
Cervical screening is for everyone with a cervix. Yet, we know that LGBTIQ+ people with a cervix often face greater barriers to cervical screening and are less likely to participate than non-LGBTIQ+ people.
If you’re aged 25-74, have a cervix and have ever been sexually active with anybody of any gender, you should have a Cervical Screening Test every five years.
The Cervical Screening Test looks for the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes most cervical cancers.
You can choose how to have your next Cervical Screening Test. You can:
- collect your own sample (self-collection) using a small swab; or
- have a healthcare provider collect your sample (clinician collected) using a speculum and small brush.
Choose what’s right for you.
The Public Cervix Announcement campaign developed by Cancer Council Victoria and Thorne Harbour aims to raise awareness of cervical screening and the self-collection option and debunk myths among the LGBTIQ+ community.
Learn more about cervical cancer and cervical screening
More information and resources
Page last updated:
The information on this webpage was last updated in December 2023.