Managing bowel screening during COVID-19

The Department of Health has provided the following information on their webpage regarding the continuation of bowel cancer screening during the Covid 19 response (http://www.cancerscreening.gov.au/internet/screening/publishing.nsf/Content/role-of-GPs)

In short it advises:

  • Participants will continue to receive screening kits and results through the mail.
  • People with positive iFOBT results will still require follow-up, and their results letter will tell them to contact their GP to seek advice.
  • When a GP or practice receives a positive iFOBT result for a participant, they may contact the participant to initiate a consult either via telehealth or face to face, and follow up patients who fail to attend. GPs should continue to refer patients to colonoscopy services for further investigation where appropriate.
  • Some participants may have delays in colonoscopy due to the strain on the health system as result of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to result in unknown delays for follow-up medical appointments or procedures.
  • Colonoscopy specialists will prioritise patients as appropriate.
  • Cancer and clinical experts advise that a short pause in routine cancer screening of asymptomatic people is likely to be very low risk, given most cancers are slow growing.
  • The National Cancer Screening Register and contact centre will remain operational.