Thousands of Australians will avoid a premature death thanks to $50 million in new funds for bowel cancer screening announced in the lead-up to the federal budget, Cancer Council Australia said today (5 May 2012).
Cancer Council CEO Professor Ian Olver commended the Australian Government for allocating an extra $49.7 million to extend bowel cancer screening to Australians turning 60 from next year, 70-year-olds from 2015 then progressively shifting to two-yearly screening of all Australians aged 50 to 74 from 2017-18.
“Today is a great day for public health in Australia,” Professor Olver said.
“Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer, yet it can almost always be treated successfully if detected early.
“Committing to a national plan for bowel cancer screening is the best thing the Australian Government could do to reduce the nation’s cancer burden in the short and longer term.”
Professor Olver said the current screening program, which had only been available as a one-off test to people turning 50, 55 and 65, had nonetheless picked up 4000 early-stage cancers or precancerous conditions over the past three years.
“So there is great potential for an extended program to pick up thousands more cases, before they become advanced and much harder to treat,” he said.
He said the bowel cancer screening plan was another milestone Australian Government step towards reducing the impact of cancer.
“Along with initiatives like plain packaging for tobacco products and a record capital investment in regional cancer centres, this latest announcement reflects the Government’s commitment to reducing cancer mortality and morbidity in Australia,” Professor Olver said.
He also also thanked Independent MPs Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie, who had strongly supported the call for expanding the program in the 2012-13 budget.