Ten years after the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) was piloted, Australians have been told they’ve got another 22 years to wait for a fully implemented program.
The Government tonight announced the most important detail of its plans for the NBCSP - full implementation (at least every two years for people aged 50 and over) by 2034.
Julien Wiggins, chief executive, Bowel Cancer Australia said, “as a charity that works solely in bowel cancer and having been consistent with our calls for full implementation, we are devastated, but not surprised, by this important detail.”
“This is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer – more than 4,000 people lose their lives to this preventable disease each year. Yet, we are essentially being told by our Government that a proper screening program is not their priority, as Australians now have to wait until 2034.”
“The piecemeal program that we’ve had for the last 10 years will continue for another 22 years making it 32 years to implement a proper screening program,” said Mr Wiggins.
“From July 2013, we will see four age groups screened – 50, 55, 60 (new) and 65. This makes it a five-year screening program when medical guidelines recommend screening at least every two years.”
“In 2015, those aged 70 years will be added and then we wait until 2034 for full implementation.”
“There has been no indication of a comprehensive awareness campaign so we can only expect that the poor participation rates (38%) will continue for the program.”
The pre-budget sweetener announced last Saturday of adding 60 year olds to this year’s budget was greeted with much elation, but Bowel Cancer Australia had a less than enthusiastic response.
“We highlighted then that there was no real indication of when a proper, complete program was going to occur and now we know why,” said Mr Wiggins.
“Bowel Cancer Australia remains committed to making screening accessible to all Australians at least once every two years.”
“We’ve invested our own funds in BowelScreen Australia® and that is going to be more important than ever after this budget.”
BowelScreen Australia® test kits are available to people of all ages from participating community pharmacies. The cost is less than $40 and that includes pathology testing.
BowelScreen Australia® is an initiative of Bowel Cancer Australia and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. Neither group receives any funding, monetary or otherwise from the sale of these kits.