Over the period 2007 to 2017, the median time between a positive screen for colorectal cancer and diagnostic assessment varied between 52 and 57 days. Since 2010, the median time to assessment has generally decreased, from 57 days to 52 days in 2017.1 In each reporting year, females were observed to have a lower median time to diagnostic assessment compared to males (approximately 2 to 3 days shorter). Within each age group, the median time to diagnostic assessment generally fluctuated over time. Observed decreases mostly occurred among males and females aged 50–54 years.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
From 2014 to 2017, the median time between a positive screen for colorectal cancer and diagnostic assessment for Indigenous Australians has fluctuated between 64 days (2015) and 83 days (2014). Nonetheless, a generally decreasing trend is indicated with the median time to assessment being to 70 days in 2017. For non-Indigenous Australians, the median time to assessment decreased from 2014 to 2017 has fluctuated between 52 and 54 days. 1, 5-7
Remoteness and socioeconomic status (SES)
Data are available for the median time between a positive screen for colorectal cancer and diagnostic assessment, by remoteness area for the years 2015 to 2017 and by SES area for the years 2014 to 2017.
Across these periods, the median time between a positive screen for colorectal cancer and diagnostic assessment in each remoteness areas and SES area has fluctuated and shown no apparent trend.1, 5-7
Colorectal cancer control in Australia
Since the initial trial of national cancer control screening through the pilot program and, subsequent implementation of the NBCSP, improvements have been observed in mortality and survival rates. 1, 3 The age-standardised colorectal cancer mortality rate has decreased from 24.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2002 to 18.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2016, and the 5-year survival rate has increased from 62.9% in 2001–2005 to 69.9% in 2011–2015. The AIHW has analysed outcomes for persons who, in the period 2006−2010, were: aged 50-74 years; and diagnosed with colorectal cancer. During this time, in Phases 1 and 2 of the NBSCP, invitations to screen were sent to persons turning 50, 55 or 65 years old. For persons who did not receive an invitation to screen, the risk of colorectal cancer death was 13% higher than for those that did receive an invitation to screen.4
The NCCI measures Capture of stage data and Distribution of cancer stage present national data for Registry-Derived stage (RD-Stage) at diagnosis for the top 5 cancers by incidence in 2011. These data show that people aged 50 years and over had a higher proportion of early stage colorectal cancers at diagnosis (stage 1 and stage 2) than those aged less than 50 years. RD-stage data collection in subsequent years will provide us with more detailed evidence regarding the impact of the NBSCP on early detection of colorectal cancer in the target age range.