35,000 lives saved through coalition's commitment: CCA

26 August, 2013

The coalition's recent commitment to complete the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program by 2020 would save 35,000 lives over the next 40 years*, according to Cancer Council Australia.

Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Ian Olver, congratulated Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton on the announcement, which included $46 million commitment to add two new age groups to the screening program from 2015.

Under the coalition plan, the remaining age groups would be added over the following five years, making bowel cancer screening available every two years for all Australians aged 50 to 74.

Professor Olver said the coalition's commitment was the best thing any future Australian government could do to reduce the nation's cancer burden.

"Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in Australia, yet it can usually be treated successfully if caught early," he said.

"Cancer Council's analysis shows that by completing the screening program by 2020, we could prevent around 35,000 bowel deaths over the next 40 years — or an average of about 875 deaths a year.

"The coalition should be congratulated for committing to the completion of the program, which was introduced by a coalition government in 2006.

"Completing the program by 2020 would be the best thing any government could do to reduce the nation's cancer death toll."

Professor Olver said he hoped the ALP would also commit to a fully implemented bowel cancer screening program by 2020 during the election campaign.

*Based on the application of MISCAN-colon modelling to Australian demographics: the modelling calculates a fully implemented screening program by 2020 would prevent 35,000 bowel cancer deaths over the subsequent 40 years. This is in addition to the projected number of deaths prevented by the current program implementation plan over the same period.