At Western Victoria Primary Health Network we are committed to improving our cancer screening rates throughout the region.

Working with general practices, we are aiming to support you to implement the optimal care pathways for patients. The first two we are focusing on are colorectal and lung cancers.
The Department of Health and Human Services selected these two as the priorities in implementing the Optimal Care Pathways across Victoria because:

  1. Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of mortality in Australia and FOBT screening for colorectal cancer is likely to avoid 1 in 6 cancer deaths* and;
  2. Lung cancer is the fifth most common cancer, but the most common cause of cancer death^.

We are working with our Integrated Cancer Services to ensure the OCPs are embedded into standard practice across all services to improve the patient cancer care experiences. Please refer to Grampians Integrated Cancer Service and Barwon South Western Regional Integrated Cancer Service for more details of their work. 

*Paul Hewitson, Paul P Glasziou, Les Irwig, Bernie Towler, Eila Watson (24 Jan, 2007). Screening for colorectal cancer using the faecal occult blood test, Hemoccult. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

^Cancer Council Australia

Supportive care

Both you, your patients, their family, friends or colleagues can call 13 11 20 to access a range of free information and support services to help manage the impact of cancer.

You can all speak with an experienced and understanding Cancer Council nurse for a confidential conversation about anything cancer related.

This may include:

  • Access to information
  • Connection with support services for financial, legal, workplace, transport, accommodation and respite needs
  • Finding out about one-on-one or group support from others who’ve been through similar experiences (over the phone, online or in person).

What are the Optimal Care Pathways (OCPs)?
New National Bowel Cancer Screening Program Test Kit
Lung cancer
Breast cancer screening
Continuing Professional Development webinars
Handy websites and resources

What are the Optimal Care Pathways (OCPs)?

The OCP guides have been endorsed by the National Cancer Expert Reference Group, Cancer Australia and Cancer Council Australia.

Optimal Cancer Care Pathways have been developed for 15 cancer types and aim to improve the cancer care experience for each patient. They contain detailed clinical pathways, as well as quick reference guides for GPs and patient guides for each cancer type.

The quick reference guides can be used to familiarise yourself with the tumour-specific pathway, including recommended care and support at each stage.

The ‘What to expect’ guides are also available for patients and caregivers to understand the cancer care pathway through the often complex health system. Please refer patients to the interactive cancer pathways portal for patients at

Please see the quick reference guides at or import the guides and patient version PDFs into your GP software using these instructions.

Optimal care pathway colorectal cancer           Optimal care pathway lung cancer 

New National Bowel Cancer Screening Program Test Kit

Department of Health

A new immunochemical faecal occult blood test (iFOBT) kit, and associated pathology services were introduced into the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (the Program) on 2 January 2018. The current test kit is no longer available.

The Program is a population based screening program that aims to help detect bowel cancer early and reduce the number of Australians who die each year from the disease. It commenced in 2006 and has been operating now for over 10 years. Eligible people are invited by mail to complete a test kit at home and send it to the Program’s pathology laboratory for analysis. There is no cost involved. The test involves taking a tiny sample of faeces which is tested in a pathology laboratory. The test can detect tiny amounts of blood in faeces which may be a sign of cancer or polyps.

The new kit (an Eiken kit - OC Auto-sampling Bottle 3 - using the Pledia analyser) and associated pathology service was selected by the Department of Health through an open market tender process. The new kit is included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods and is already used widely in Australia and overseas. The new pathology provider is Sonic Healthcare Limited (Sonic).

Sonic commenced services 2 January 2018. There will be no disruption of services for people to be invited through the Program. For any kits issued by Dorevitch pathology in 2017, where these are returned in 2018, they will still be tested by Dorevitch Pathology as the service provider will still be in place with the Program to test returned kits that were issued in 2017.

The new kit sample collection method is very similar to that of the kit currently used in the Program. The attached brochure provides information on the kit contents and instructions. This Instruction Brochure will be provided to invitees with the kit, along with an Information Booklet. The Information Booklet has also been updated and is attached for your reference. A new ‘how to do the test’ video is also being developed. The new instruction brochure, Information Booklet and video and will be available at in early January 2018. Questions and answers about the new kit will also be available on the website.

Enhancing the user-friendliness of the kit and associated consumer materials has been a key focus leading in to the implementation of the new kit. Improvements have been made drawing on the lessons learnt and feedback from Program participants, focus groups, experts, stakeholders and advisory group members. During the first year of implementation, continuous improvement of the kit will remain a key area of focus for the Department of Health and Sonic.

Demonstration kits available via email if you would like to place an order.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths in Australia. Being responsible for almost one in five cancer deaths in Australia. Approximately 157 people die of lung cancer per week. The five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with lung cancer is less than 14%. Incidence of lung cancer: ASR (per 100,000) 42.7.

There is no routine screening test for lung cancer. However smoking is a lifestyle risk factor and in our region the smoking rate is at 19%, compared to a national average of 16%.

Lung cancer forum recorded

Recently Barwon South Western Regional Integrated Cancer Service (BSWRICS) and Barwon Health held a Lung Cancer forum as part of the implementation of Optimal Care Pathways and to introduce the new Multidisciplinary Lung Tumour Clinic at Barwon Health.  

This complimentary event is available to view by following these steps:

  1. Email or call BSWRICS on 4215 0459 to receive a password
  2. Once you have your password, go to the BSWRICS website to view the forum.

Forum presentations

Topic Speaker
Lung and Thoracic Cancers in the Barwon South West Region     Mr Cheng Hon Yap, Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Sue Riches, BSWRICS Program Manager
Endobronchial Ultrasound Dr James Malone, Consultant Visiting Medical Officer, Respiratory Medicine
Surgery for Lung and Thoracic Cancers Mr Siven Seevanayagam, Director - Cardiothoracic Surgery
Advances in Systemic Therapy Dr David Campbell, Medical Oncologist
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) for Lung Cancer Dr Andrew Hui, Radiation Oncologist
Lung Cancer and Palliative Care / Supportive Care  Sue Berry, Nurse Practitioner Oncology / Palliative Care and Natalie Ashley, Cancer Care Coordinator

The timing of this forum also coincides with the launch of Western Victoria PHN's Lung Cancer Health Pathways, for which the referral pathway in Geelong Otway is also complete.  The overall information is relevant to all of the Western Victoria PHN region, however there is some localised referral content relevant to the Barwon South West region.

Breast cancer screening

After non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian women. It is estimated that it will become the most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2017 among both persons and females. This is because the incidence of prostate cancer (which was the most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2013) is expected to continue to decline.

In 2017, it is estimated that 17,730 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in Australia (144 males and 17,586 females).

In 2017, the estimated risk of an individual being diagnosed with breast cancer by their 85th birthday is 1 in 14 (1 in 715 males, and 1 in 8 females).

Table 1: Estimated most common cancers diagnosed in 2017   
 Cancer type  New cases 2017  % of all new cancers 2017
 Breast  17,730  13.2
 Breast (females)  17,586  28.4
 Colorectal (bowel)  16,682  12.4
 Prostate (males)  16,665  23.1
 Melanoma  13,941  10.4
 Lung  12,434  9.3


Participation rate in BreastScreen Australia by Primary Health Network (PHN), state-wide 2014 - 2015

State Code Primary Health Network (PHN) Participation (%)
VIC PHN201 North Western Melbourne 51.2
VIC PHN202 Eastern Melbourne 53.7
VIC PHN203 South Eastern Melbourne 49.4
VIC PHN204 Gippsland 55.2
VIC/NSW PHN205 Murray 56.8
VIC PHN206 Western Victoria 55.5


Region Participation (%)
Ballarat 55.7
Creswick - Daylesford - Ballan 51.7
Maryborough - Pyrenees 46.8
Barwon - West 54.4
Geelong 56.4
Surf Coast - Bellarine Peninsula   58.7


Continuing Professional Development webinars

Check-out these webinars for further information. 

Handy websites and resources


For further information please contact one of our Primary Care Consultants from your area.

Ballarat Goldfields
Jacqui White
5331 6303

Geelong Otway
Jenny Boyd
5222 0800

Great South Coast
Rachael Bond
5564 5888

Wimerra Grampians
Tanya Hahne
5381 1756