Frequently asked questions

Here you will find answers to the frequently asked questions (FAQs) you may have about the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) or your participation in the screening programs.

On this page

If you are unable to find answers to your questions on this page, or would like further information, call 1800 627 701 to speak to a member of our Contact Centre team.

General FAQs about the Register

The NCSR holds nationally consistent health information within a single electronic record for each person participating in bowel and/or cervical screening.

Healthcare providers can access this single patient record to view screening results, which helps them provide patients with timely advice and care.
 
The NCSR is responsible for:

  • Inviting eligible people to start screening (at age 25 for cervical screening and 50 for bowel screening), and send them reminders when they are due or overdue for screening, no matter where they are in Australia.
  • Providing a ‘safety net’ for participants who are at risk and who have not attended further testing by prompting them to have follow-up tests.
  • Supporting healthcare providers and specialists to communicate more effectively with pathology laboratories.

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care appointed Telstra Health to build and operate the NCSR in May 2016, following an open competitive tender process in accordance with Australian Government Procurement Rules.

Telstra Health is a standalone business unit of Telstra Corporation. Telstra Health has a strong record of delivering health solutions through the use of transformative technology.

The infrastructure platform that is part of the NCSR has been in use over the last 20 years and is proven to be robust, scalable and capable of supporting the collection, storage, analysis and reporting requirements of the NCSR.

The Australian Department of Health and Aged Care is the data custodian.

As custodian of the information, the Australian Government has control over the information, especially with respect to its use and disclosure. 

The NCSR collects information including your name, address, contact details, date of birth, sex, Medicare number or Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) number and individual healthcare identifier. This helps us identify you, send screening invitations and reminders, and support clinical follow-up of abnormal screening results.

The NCSR may also collect information about you in relation to cervical and bowel screening, such as:

  • your screening history, for example, the date of your last screening test
  • details of screening test results
  • other clinical information that relates to screening, including information on any clinical follow up or investigation you may have attended
  • your HPV vaccination status (specific to cervical screening)
  • Medicare claims information which may indicate whether you have undergone or should undergo screening
  • diagnosis of cervical or bowel cancer, or pre-cursor to cervical or bowel cancer (if any)
  • your Personal Representative (if you have one)
  • your nominated healthcare provider for cervical and bowel screening (if you nominate one)
  • any healthcare providers you may have seen or who have been involved with your cervical or bowel screening tests and follow-ups (i.e., GP, test collector, pathology laboratory, colposcopists, colonoscopists or other specialists)
  • any requests you have made about your participation in the national bowel or cervical screening programs.
The NCSR also collects:
  • your Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status
  • information about country of birth, language spoken at home and whether you need an interpreter when communicating with us or program representatives
  • information about any assistance you require due to a medical condition or disability.
If you are a Personal Representative:
  • please read ‘you’  as including yourself and any actions you undertake on behalf of the individual that you represent
  • the NCSR collects information about you to confirm your identity to ensure you can act on behalf of the person that you are representing.
If you are an individual healthcare provider:

To confirm your identity and allow you to access and report to the NCSR, we may also collect information about you from:

  • individuals nominating you as their healthcare provider
  • other healthcare providers (e.g., pathology laboratories and other specialists)
  • the Department of Human Services
  • the National Health Service Directory
  • NASH Directory
  • Endpoint Locator Service

state and territory health departments.

The NCSR collects your information from the following sources:

Source of information

Information collected

You and/or your Personal Representative

Your Personal Information

Indigenous status or country of birth and language spoken at home

If you require an interpreter or assistance to manage your medical conditions or disabilities

Your requests about participation in the national bowel and cervical screening programs

Services Australia (formerly Department of Human Services

Your Personal Information

Medicare number

Individual Healthcare Identifier

Department of Veterans’ Affairs number

Medicare enrolment data (demographic information) and claims information

Indigenous status

Your healthcare providers, including pathology providers and specialists

Your screening test results

Information regarding your colposcopy or colonoscopy

Diagnosis of cervical or bowel cancer or pre-cursor to cervical or bowel cancer

State and territory governments

Information regarding your participation in the National Cervical Screening Program prior to transition of state and territory cervical screening registers and databases to the NCSR

Information regarding your participation in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

The NCSR uses and discloses your information for the following purposes:

Purpose of use and disclosure

Who information is disclosed to

To send you invitations and reminders to screen and to follow up adverse screening results

To enable you to access and update your personal information and cervical or bowel screening information

To enable you to manage your participation in cervical or bowel screening

You and/or your Personal Representative

To provide access to your clinical information relating to cervical or bowel screening to assist with clinical assessment

To enable referral for further examination if you have a positive result and support clinical management

To help your healthcare provider discuss screening with you and to manage your participation in screening

To support clinical decisions with recommendations on your care

To provide a quality feedback loop for individual healthcare providers

To support pathology providers with laboratory quality assurance activities (pathology providers only)

Your healthcare providers, including pathology providers and specialists

To provide the Health department or agency in the state or territory where you reside (and move to if you relocate) access to your information relating to cervical or bowel screening

To enable local program policy and service planning, monitoring and evaluation

To implement strategies to increase screening participation and access to follow-up services

State and territory governments

To support cervical and bowel cancer research and other relevant research for public health purposes. Research is subject to meeting the requirements of the NCSR Act.

Researchers

To enable screening program monitoring, analysis and evaluation

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)

No. In accordance with the National Cancer Screening Register Act 2016 and other relevant laws, data in the NCSR may only be used for the purposes of the NCSR. 

The Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care and Telstra Health takes your privacy very seriously and complies with strict security standards. Information is only collected, used and disclosed for the purposes of operating the NCSR, and as otherwise authorised by the Australian Government in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (including the Australian Privacy Principles) and the National Cancer Screening Register Act 2016. View the Privacy Policy for more information.

In addition to the legal requirements for protecting privacy, the NCSR operates in accordance with strict Australian Government security policies and guidelines. Only authorised personnel have access to information held in the NCSR and this is monitored for authentication credentials upon access.

Your information in the NCSR is stored within Australia in secure data storage facilities.

The NCSR Act provides the legislative framework to safeguard protected information in the NCSR by prohibiting its use and disclosure for purposes outside the requirements of operating the NCSR and by creating an offence arising from the unauthorised recording, use or disclosure of Personal Information contained in the NCSR. The legislation also requires notification to the Australian Information Commissioner if there is a data breach.

Telstra Health must comply with all legal and legislative requirements applicable to the processing of and access to health data. This includes the following Commonwealth Acts:

See also: 

The NCSR only collects, uses and discloses information about individuals participating in the National Cervical Screening Program and National Bowel Cancer Screening Program for the purposes of the NCSR as authorised by the NCSR Act.

Sometimes, information might be sent from pathology laboratories or specialists about people who have made a request to not have their screening information stored in the NCSR. The NCSR will either not accept, delete, or securely destroy this information so that it is not stored in the NCSR.

FAQs for participants

This section contains FAQs that are relevant to members of the public around the NCSR. 

Yes. If you have participated in bowel and cervical screening, you can manage your contact information and access your screening status through the Participant Portal or by calling our Contact Centre on 1800 627 701.

There are strict rules about who can access or use your personal information. Your information can only be accessed for purposes related to the NCSR, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and the National Cervical Screening Program, or for other purposes as authorised by law.

  • You can ask for access to your Personal Information or request to correct it.
  • If you have a Personal Representative (parent, guardian, trustee, power of attorney or nominated person), they will be authorised to access your Personal Information.
  • As the data custodian for the NCSR, the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care is authorised to access your personal information but only for the purposes of the bowel and cervical screening programs.
  • As the contracted service provider for the NCSR, Telstra Health is authorised to access and use your personal information but only for the purposes of the bowel and cervical screening programs.
  • Healthcare providers (including pathology providers and specialists) can access your information for the purposes of providing you healthcare in relation to cervical or bowel screening.
  • State and territory health departments can access your personal information in the NCSR to enable local program policy and service planning, monitoring and evaluation and to implement strategies to increase screening participation, access to follow-up services and maximise access of under-screened and never-screened groups.
  • Professional disciplinary bodies, such as the Medical Board of Australia, child protection officers and law enforcement officers may be provided with access to your personal information where that access will enable or assist them to perform their functions.
  • Other persons may be provided with access to your personal information for the purposes of court or tribunal proceedings or a coronial inquiry or in accordance with an order of a court, tribunal or coroner.

If you have any privacy concerns, please contact the Department of Health and Aged Care Privacy Contact Officer through the following:

You also have the option of contacting the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner through its website if you wish to make a privacy complaint against us or if you are not satisfied with how we have handled your complaint.

No, there is no fee to access your record.

The NCSR holds relevant information about people participating in bowel and cervical screening in one place.

The Participant Portal allows easy access to your screening information, including your last screening date and when you’re next due to screen, when you need it.

The Participant Portal is accessed via your myGov account. Visit our Participant Portal User Guide for more information.

You can use the Participant Portal to:

  • View and update your demographic personal details
  • View your screening status
  • Update your program demographic details and participation such as opt out, defer and cease correspondence
  • Nominate other people to assist you or receive reminders
  • View previously sent correspondence

You can still call the Contact Centre, the Participant Portal is just an additional option for contacting us.

We obtain your name information from Medicare.

You may wish to have a pseudonym (alternative name) held in the NCSR for bowel and cervical screening letters. This name will appear on correspondence to be addressed to you for each of these programs.

You can nominate a pseudonym by using the Participant Portal, submitting a webform, or by calling us on 1800 627 701.

If you wish to change your formal name as recorded with Medicare, you will need to contact Medicare directly on 132 011 or visit www.servicesaustralia.gov.au.

We obtain your primary address from Medicare.

If you wish to change your primary address details as recorded with Medicare, you will need to contact Medicare directly on 132 011 or visit www.servicesaustralia.gov.au.

You can use the Participant Portal or call us on 1800 627 701 to provide an alternative address used by the NCSR only.

We obtain your date of birth details from Medicare.

If you wish to change your date of birth details as recorded with Medicare, you will need to contact Medicare directly on 132 011 or visit www.servicesaustralia.gov.au.

The NCSR is responsible for sending correspondence (invitation and reminder letters) on behalf of the screening programs to:

  • eligible women and people with a cervix to screen for cervical cancer once they turn 25
  • eligible people to screen for bowel cancer once they turn 50.

You will have received a letter because you are due or overdue for screening. For more information, contact your healthcare provider or the NCSR Contact Centre on 1800 627 701.

The NCSR will not contact you once you have opted out. If you previously opted out of your local state or territory cervical screening program that referred to the Pap register, you might still receive invitations or other correspondence from us. This is because some of the former local state and territory registers de-identified personal information, so we will not know you have previously opted out. If this happens, you will need to request to opt out of the NCSR. For more information, see manage your participation.

You may choose to cease correspondence indefinitely or for a defined period.

This means we will continue to collect your screening test results and other screening information, but you will not receive any contact or reminders from us.

Your healthcare provider will still be able to access your screening information and will receive follow-up contact if required. 

You can do this using the Participant Portal, submitting a webform, or by calling us on 1800 627 701.

To defer your next screening date, you can:

Please read important information about opting out of the NCSR.

We only collect screening test results that have been performed in Australia. If you have a screening test overseas, the NCSR will not get your result.

Please use the Participant Portal or call 1800 627 701 to update your record with information that you are going overseas.

BreastScreen Australia is a joint initiative of the Australian Government and state and territory governments. The Australian Government provides overall policy direction, and the program is delivered at the local level by state and territory governments.

BreastScreen Australia data is not included in the NCSR because each state and territory is responsible for recording and managing client information and for operational activities like issuing invitations and managing bookings.

You can contact BreastScreen Australia on 13 20 50 to connect to your nearest BreastScreen Australia service within your state or territory.

The NCSR collects your personal information for the purpose of inviting you to screen through the National Cervical Screening Program and National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and for recording your screening test results. The NCSR provides a follow-up service for people who have an abnormal screening result and requires your contact information for this purpose.

It is not compulsory for you to have your cervical or bowel screening results recorded in the NCSR. You can choose to opt out of the NCSR at any time or restrict how we interact with you.

If you chose to opt out, no future clinical information will be stored on your screening record and you will not receive any further correspondence from us. We will continue to record your personal information for the purpose of stopping future screening information being recorded. If you have a screening record that predates your opt-out request, access to this information will not be restricted.

Depending on your preference, you can make the following requests to the NCSR:

Requests you can make to the NCSR

Effect of this request

Nominate a healthcare provider

The healthcare provider will be able to access details and receive notifications about your screening (including screening reminders and follow up of abnormal test results). With your consent, your healthcare provider can act on your behalf to make requests to the NCSR.

If you see a different healthcare provider for cervical or bowel screening, they will also be recorded in the NCSR to receive information about your screening.

Opt out of the NCSR

You will not be contacted or receive any future correspondence from us regarding cervical or bowel screening, depending on the program(s) you choose to opt out of, including invitations to screen, reminders, free bowel screening test kits or follow up.

You can still schedule and undergo a cervical  screening test at any time by visiting your healthcare provider, but your screening test results will not be recorded in the NCSR. Because the screening test results are not recorded, your healthcare provider will not be able to access your screening test results from the NCSR from the time you have opted out.

If you want to opt back in to the NCSR for either cervical or bowel screening, you can withdraw your opt-out request at any time. By withdrawing an opt-out request, you will start receiving invitations, reminders and follow-ups from the NCSR again, and any screening test results or follow-ups will be recorded on the NCSR from then on.

Cease receiving correspondence

You will no longer receive any contact or correspondence (letters) from us in relation to cervical or bowel screening, depending on the program(s) you request to cease correspondence for.

Any information relating to your cervical or bowel screening will continue to be recorded in the NCSR and can be viewed by your healthcare provider.

Defer your next cervical or bowel screening date

You will not receive any reminders or follow-ups from the NCSR in relation to screening during the deferral period. You can still screen at any time before your nominated deferral date, and the results will be recorded in the NCSR. This option enables you to remain on the NCSR while postponing screening for reasons including moving temporarily overseas or medical advice to defer.

Nominate a pseudonym (fictitious name)

All your results, clinical follow-up and correspondence are stored against your pseudonym. Your details in the NCSR are only searchable using the pseudonym.

This option enables added privacy protection through a pseudonym while you continue to participate in the NCSR.

Nominate or appoint a Personal Representative

A Personal Representative is a person that is authorised to act on your behalf to access or update your personal information. A Personal Representative can be nominated by you or appointed on your behalf.

See manage your participation  for more information. Alternatively, you can call the Contact Centre on 1800 627 701 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm in all Australia state and territory timezones).

If you are eligible for bowel or cervical screening, the NCSR will send you an invitation to start screening, or a reminder of when your next screening is due.

You can use the Participant Portal to check your screening status and when you are next due to screen.

No. Telstra (including Telstra Health) are only permitted to use your personal information to support the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and the National Cervical Screening Program.

For more information on privacy, please refer to the Privacy Policy.

More answers to frequently asked questions relating to the NCSR are available on the Department of Health and Aged Care’s website.

For more information on the Privacy Act and the Australian Privacy Principles, please refer to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website.

FAQs for healthcare providers

This section contains FAQs that are relevant to healthcare providers around the NCSR.

You can access participant information relating to bowel and cervical screening by:

You can also refer to our Quick Start Guide for Healthcare Providers.

The introduction of the  Healthcare Provider Portal provides an alternate channel for interacting with the NCSR to help improve user experience, reduce phone calls, paper forms and fax.

The Portal and clinical software integrations are designed to give healthcare professionals more choice in how they access and submit patient screening information to the NCSR.

Healthcare providers will be required to authenticate themselves through the creation of a PRODA account or be the delegate of a provider with a PRODA account, to then login to the web-based portal.

Provider Digital Access, commonly known as PRODA, is an online authentication system used to ensure sensitive information held by the NCSR is securely protected.

Non-registered healthcare professionals, without a Medicare Provider number, will need to apply for a PRODA account and then request to be a delegate of a health professional with a Medicare Provider number (likely the head clinician or equivalent).

For more information, visit our Healthcare Provider Portal page.

Each provider requires a PRODA account in order to verify your identity and subsequently gain access to the Healthcare Provider Portal.

The process will require you to:

  • Create a unique username and password
  • Create security questions and answers
  • Provide information from identity documents, such as a passport, driver’s license or Medicare card.

Each person must keep their PRODA username and password secure and confidential.

Find out more about registering with PRODA.

By registering and logging into the Portal you can:

  • Search for your patient and view their screening history and when they are next due to screeen
  • Submit a request on behalf of your patient, such as opt out, defer and cease correspondence
  • Submit screening information about your patient, such as colonoscopy or colposcopy clinical forms
  • Nominate other people to assist your patient, including another doctor or a personal representative

More information on how to register is available in the Healthcare Provider Portal User Guide.

Eighteen months prior to the release of the Healthcare Provider Portal, the NCSR team worked closely with healthcare providers to gain feedback on the additional functionality and get a better understanding of how they interact with the screening programs to help us create an optimal user experience. We did this through enquiry sessions, design validation sessions, and User Experience testing with healthcare providers. We also worked with them to conduct external Clinician Verification Testing on the new functionality.

A pilot for the Healthcare Provider Portal ran throughout September 2020 with 30 healthcare providers who were provided with early access and encouraged to integrate portal usage into their existing ways of working when accessing or submitting data to the NCSR. The pilot was introduced to assess the user experience and to ensure the portal was operating as intended. Following the success of the pilot, the portal was accessible to all eligible users from October 2020.

The NCSR has developed a non-proprietary and standardised common interface (REST FHIR API 2.0) to integrate with clinical software vendors (excluding lab software).

The introduction of clinical software integration allows healthcare providers to access and report clinical data for the bowel and cervical screening programs seamlessly from the clinical software they use on a daily basis.

Find out more about clinical software integration.

Yes, you can continue to call the Contact Centre to communicate with the NCSR or manage your patient’s details and participation in the screening programs.

Yes. The Healthcare Provider Portal provides an online alternative to submit clinical information which aims to create efficiencies and improve data quality, however you can continue to send paper forms such as colonoscopy forms, adverse events forms and colposcopy forms.

Yes, we support a fax service.

Fax completed forms for abnormal results questionnaire, colposcopy and treatment forms to one of the following numbers:

  • Cervical Screening Fax – 1800 627 702
  • Bowel Screening Fax – 1800 115 062

Please include a separate cover letter with:

  • additional information
  • number of pages faxed (including cover sheet)
  • your practice name
  • your fax number.

You must fax each participant report individually for privacy of personal information.

FAQs for pathologists or medical scientists

This section contains FAQs that are relevant to pathologists or medical scientists around the NCSR. 

You can access participant information relating to bowel and cervical screening by:

  • registering access to the Healthcare Provider Portal, or
  • calling our Contact Centre on 1800 627 701.

You can also refer to our Quick Start Guide for Healthcare Providers.

To access the NCSR web-based portal, Healthcare providers and pathologists are required to authenticate themselves through the creation of a PRODA account, or be the delegate of a provider with a PRODA account.

Provider Digital Access, commonly known as PRODA, is an online authentication system used to ensure sensitive information held by the NCSR is securely protected.

Non-registered healthcare professionals, without a Medicare Provider number, working in a laboratory (such as a triage scientists etc) will need to apply for a PRODA account and then request to be a delegate of a health professional with a Medicare Provider number (likely the pathologist).

For more information, visit our Accessing the NCSR page.

You can use the NCSR to:

  • request and view screening histories
  • submit HPV molecular, cytology and histology test results
  • enquire about a person’s eligibility or screening status

The Healthcare Provider Portal enables you to view participant screening histories and next screening date online. More information on how to register is available in the Healthcare Provider Portal User Guide.

You must either connect your lab to the NCSR to submit test result electronically via HL7, or via fax. See below for more information.

Yes. If your laboratory does not have access to the Healthcare Provider Portal, you can call or fax the Contact Centre to make a request or send results as follows:

Phone:

1800 627 701 to speak to a member of our contact centre team.

Fax:

  • Cervical Screening Fax – 1800 627 702
  • Bowel Screening Fax – 1800 115 062

Please include a separate cover letter with:

  • additional information
  • number of pages faxed (including cover sheet)
  • your practice name
  • your fax number.

You must fax each participant report individually for privacy of personal information.

We use HL7 messaging to provide a fast and efficient service for cervical screening results/history requests and bowel screening results. Read more about HL7 messaging from HL7 Australia.

You can view charts and tables relating to HPV positivity rates page.

Definitions

Contracted service provider

A contracted service provider is an entity or organisation that is engaged to perform the functions of the NCSR. The Contracted service provider is Telstra Health.

Department of Health and Aged Care (Health)

Means the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care (Health), which has a diverse set of responsibilities and aims to deliver better healthcare services, including through the NCSR.

Services Australia (formerly Department of Human Services)

An Australian Government agency that delivers government payments and services.

Services Australia is responsible for the service delivery of Medicare and provides access to social, health and other payments. Services Australia operates the Healthcare Identifiers Service.

Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA)

The Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs is responsible for carrying out government policy and implementing programs to fulfil Australia’s obligations to veterans, war widows and widowers, and serving and former members of the Australian Defence Force.

Healthcare provider

A healthcare provider means an individual healthcare provider or a healthcare provider organisation.

Healthcare provider organisation

A healthcare provider organisation is an entity, or a part of an entity, that has conducted, conducts, or will conduct, an enterprise that provides healthcare (including healthcare provided free of charge such as a hospital).

Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI)

The Individual Healthcare Identifier is a 16-digit unique number used to identify individuals who receive or may receive healthcare in the Australian health system.

Register Reference Number (RRN)

A Register Reference Number (RRN) is the unique identifier assigned by the NCSR to the participant. It is used to authenticate an eligible screening participant.

National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP)

A Joint cervical screening program of the Australian, State and Territory Governments.

National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP)

A joint bowel screening program of the Australian, State and Territory Governments.

National Cancer Screening Register

(NCSR)

A register supporting the Australian Government’s National Cervical Screening Program and National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

The NCSR sends invitations and reminders to screen for bowel and cervical cancer. It notifies you and/or your healthcare provider if your bowel or cervical screening test result indicates you need further investigation and/or treatment.

Individual healthcare provider

An individual healthcare provider is an individual who has provided, provides, or is to provide, healthcare; or is registered by a registration authority as a member of a particular health profession (e.g., a doctor, specialist, pathology provider, registered nurse, an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health practitioner).

Nominated healthcare provider

A nominated healthcare provider is an individual healthcare provider that an individual has requested be recorded to receive information about their bowel or cervical screening.

Personal Information

Has the same meaning as in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). Personal information includes health information and any information or opinion about an individual that relates to the identification of the individual or allows the individual to be identified. Examples of personal information are a person’s name, address, phone number, Medicare number, employment details, and medical test result.

Personal Representative

A Personal Representative is someone (a parent, guardian, trustee, power of attorney or nominated person) that is authorised to access your personal information.

Pseudonym

A Pseudonym or alias is a fictitious name that a person assumes for a particular purpose (e.g., for the National Cervical Screening Program or National Bowel Cancer Screening Program), which can differ from their original or true name. For example, John Smith may choose to be identified as Jack Doe. The NCSR will address all communications (including notifications sent to healthcare providers) to the Pseudonym.

NCSR

The National Cancer Screening Register