Liberals launch bowel cancer prevention initiative

The State Liberals today committed $5 million to a Bowel Cancer Prevention Initiative which will save lives by delivering vital procedures earlier and prevent bowel cancer progressing.

“The Weatherill Labor Government is so badly managing our hospitals that some people are waiting more than 12 months for urgent colonoscopies and waits of over 6 months are common,” said State Liberal Leader Steven Marshall.

“The current clinical consensus is that a person needing a colonoscopy after a positive Faecal Occult Blood Test result should not wait more than 4 months - 120 days.

“The latest national figures show that South Australia has the longest waits of any jurisdiction.”

The Liberal policy commits to:

  1. Eradicate, within 12 months of the election, the overdue waiting list for a colonoscopy after a positive faecal occult blood test;
  2. Regularly publish the numbers and waiting times of people requiring a colonoscopy after a positive bowel cancer test result; and
  3. Pursue the national time target for a colonoscopy after a positive bowel cancer test result.

If detected early, 90% of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated.

“The psychological stress for people while they wait for a colonoscopy is tough,” said Mr Marshall.

“Delays in investigation may allow the cancer to develop, increasing the threat it poses.”

Earlier procedures are also a better use of resources: the typical cost of treating cancers that develop from polyps is $36,000 per case - 25 times higher than the cost of removing a precancerous polyp detected through screening.

A Marshall Liberal Government will work with health professionals to develop quality, timely care pathways. It may be necessary to engage the private sector to address the backlog.

Clinical advice will determine the scope of the target group, which would include better, evidence-based access for people with symptoms (such as rectal bleeding).

Urgent action is needed now. Increased testing under the National Bowel Screening Program and the ageing of South Australia’s population will both increase demand for colonoscopies over the next few years.

Clinicians will be actively involved in analysing the data which underpins the strategy based on transparency and accountability.

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