The Cessnock Advertiser's Letters to the Editor: October 14, 2020

Letters to the Editor: October 14


Cancer Council NSW is calling on NSW residents to act now to get up-to-date with their bowel, breast and cervical screening following data released last week that shows fewer Australians are screening in 2020 than previous years.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report shows that in NSW between January to June 2020 there was 48,637 fewer mammograms and 129,522 fewer cervical screening tests completed, and from January to July 5261 fewer bowel screening tests returned, compared with previous years*.

We know that COVID-19 has impacted cancer screening in different ways. BreastScreen NSW temporarily suspended services in the first stages of the COVID-19, having since reopened. The cervical screening program transitioned from the two-yearly Pap smear to the five-yearly cervical screening test but the reductions during NSW lockdowns are more than expected.

Some of us may have delayed or neglected our regular health checks. But if we don't buck this trend and see these numbers improve, there is a very real risk that we could have more deaths from cancer caused by the indirect impacts of COVID-19, than by the virus itself.

I am urging NSW residents to stop putting off their health checks. If you have recently been invited to participate in the breast, bowel or cervical screening programs, make your appointments, get it done and tick cancer screening off your to do list.

The Australian Government has recently invested in a $2.2 million Cancer Screening Saves Lives campaign, delivered by Cancer Council, to combat this drop and encourage eligible people to screen.

If you have any questions or concerns about cancer, please call 13 11 20 or visit

Anita Dessaix,

Director, Cancer Prevention & Advocacy,

Cancer Council NSW

*Bowel and cervical data compared 2020 with 2019, breast data compared 2020 with 2018.

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