Growing Colonoscopy Wait-list Delays Vital Diagnosis

Bowel Cancer Australia

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Bowel Cancer Australia is calling on the Federal and State Governments to increase funding for colonoscopies this Bowel Cancer Awareness Month (1-30 June) as new statistics reveal lengthy waitlists across the country continue to grow.

The AIHW’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program: monitoring report 2018 reveals 84% of participants who received a positive screen did not receive a colonoscopy within the World Health Organisation’s recommended one-month timeframe, with research showing wait-times exceeding 120 days’ lead to poorer outcomes.

“People who receive a positive screen or experience bowel cancer symptoms must receive a timely follow-up colonoscopy, or the opportunity for early detection is lost,” Colorectal Surgeon Graham Newstead said.

“We know 90% of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated if detected early,” Associate Professor Newstead said.

Bowel Cancer Australia CEO Julien Wiggins said it is unacceptable that people must wait six months or even longer for a colonoscopy to learn if they have bowel cancer.

“Research indicates waiting longer than 120 days for a colonoscopy following a positive screen or for people experiencing symptoms are associated with poorer outcomes,” Mr Wiggins said.

“A colonoscopy is not a procedure many would queue for, and yet many are in the thousands, which creates anxiety for patients and their families, as they wait to learn their fate,” Mr Wiggins said.

Demand for colonoscopies is set to exceed 1 million per year by 2021, as people age and the NBCSP expands, with government target of increasing participation by 15% over the next two years.

Across Australia, colonoscopy wait times drastically exceed one month, with some States seeing these wait times increase even further according to the most recent data:

Mr Wiggins said lack of funding by Federal and State Governments is having severe consequences, with delays in accessing colonoscopy putting lives at risk.

“While we welcome the recent funding committed by the Victorian and South Australian governments, there needs to be an ongoing commitment to ensure timely colonoscopy given projected demand,” Mr Wiggins said.

“We need all governments to commit significant funds for diagnostic colonoscopy if we are to effectively detect and treat Australia’s second deadliest cancer.”

Bowel Cancer Australia this week launched a bold new campaign using CGI technology to create a transparent human based around the concept of the forgotten organ using the distinctive voice of UK comedian, Bill Bailey, to raise awareness about the bowel asking Australians to ‘Give a $#*! about your bowel’.

Bill Bailey has a personal connection after losing his mother to the disease in 2005, and the campaign aims to capture the attention of Australians, shift perception and create conversation about a very difficult subject.

The campaign will run on television and radio across Australia throughout Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.

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