New health minister 'set to save 35,000 lives'

18 September, 2013

Cancer Council Australia has welcomed the appointment of Peter Dutton as Federal Health Minister, following his election campaign commitment to complete Australia's National Bowel Cancer Screening Program by 2020.

In a recent statement Professor Ian Olver, Cancer Council CEO, said Dutton's promise to finalise the bowel cancer screening program by 2020 would save an additional 35,000 lives over the next 40 years.

"Mr Dutton indicated a strong commitment to the program throughout his tenure as shadow health minister, so it was very encouraging to see the completion of the program included as one of his key campaign commitments," Professor Olver said.

"His understanding of the evidence supporting the program's benefits in lives saved bodes well for his appointment."

Professor Olver said the program's completion was the most urgent federal intervention in Australia's response to an increasing cancer burden.

"Right now there are thousands of Australians with an early-stage bowel cancer or precancerous condition who show no symptoms of the disease," he said.

"By screening all Australians age 50 and over, every two years, we will be able to pick up a significant number of those cases when they are relatively easy to treat.

"Our own estimates show that the plan Mr Dutton has to fastback implementation of the program will prevent an extra 35,000 bowel cancer deaths through early detection over the next 40 years.

"I congratulate Mr Dutton on his appointment, and look forward to working with his department on the implementation of his cancer control program."