Key messages

  • Screening registers are a vital component of population screening programs.
  • The data collected by screening registers is used for patient benefit, research and program monitoring, evaluation and quality assurance.
  • Victoria has a breast cancer screening register and a cervical cancer screening register.
  • The bowel cancer screening register is national.

Screening registers underpin population screening programs

Screening registers record complete screening histories for participants so that each time a person attends for screening their result can be compared to previous results, enabling appropriate clinical recommendations to be provided to health professionals.

The registers also record contact details so that invitations, reminders and recalls for further assessment can be sent to participants. Data reporting and collection is generally electronic and automatic, and in accordance with relevant legislation and health privacy principles.

How the data in screening registers is used

Registers serve multiple purposes, including invitations and reminders, supporting clinical management and follow-up, program monitoring and evaluation, quality assurance (for example for health professionals and pathology laboratories) and to support the overarching quality frameworks of the screening programs. Researchers can access screening registry data, provided they meet the required access criteria and protocols.

Registry data is regularly analysed to monitor program efficacy, safety, outcomes and performance against program indicators at a state and national levels. Data analysis is also undertaken to inform program policy and service planning, to identify trends in screening behaviour and outcomes, and to support initiatives to improve access and participation by under-screened and never-screened population groups.

National Cancer Screening Register

The newly established National Cancer Screening Register currently provides national electronic infrastructure for the collection, storage, analysis and reporting of screening program data for the National Cervical Screening Program. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program will transition at a later stage.

The Register sends reminder letters to women before they are due to screen and if they are overdue, acts as a safety net for the follow-up of women with abnormal screening test results and provides the women’s screening history to the laboratory to assist reporting the current screening test.

National Bowel Cancer Screening Program Register

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program has one national register owned by the Commonwealth. It sends bowel cancer screening invitations, screening kits and reminder letters. The Register also collects screening test results taken through the program. It does not collect information about the outcomes of all faecal occult blood tests (FOBT) and all colonoscopies done in Australia.

BreastScreen Victoria Registry

The BreastScreen Victoria Registry collects results of mammographic screening, subsequent radiology, pathology and clinical tests and examinations and assessment of women for cancer of the breast through BreastScreen Victoria.

The registry sends invitations offering free mammographic screening to Victorian women every two years once they turn 50, until they turn 74. The registry supports a centralised appointment booking service, sends reminders to women overdue for screening, and supports recall and follow-up for each woman with an abnormal screening result. It does not collect test results from diagnostic imaging, pathology or any other tests undertaken by public or private service providers outside BreastScreen Victoria.