The Abbott Government’s 2015/16 Budget will improve cancer detection, treatment and prevention through a range of innovative new measures ensuring Australia remains a world leader in the field, says Health Minister Sussan Ley.
Ley has announced a National Cancer Screening Register and a new test for cervical cancer that is hoped to increase survival rates while reducing the number of invasive procedures during a woman’s life by more than half.
The announcements are part of more than $600 million worth of new cancer measures to be included in tomorrow’s Budget, which also includes the listing of new life-saving drug treatments for melanoma and breast cancer on the PBS from July 1 2015, announced yesterday.
“The Abbott Government is serious about increasing cancer screening rates as we know that screening programmes save lives,” Ley says.
“Currently there are eight separate state and territory cervical screening registers and an outdated, paper-based, bowel screening register which has created a fragmented system.
“With recent investments in cancer prevention and detection, it is essential that we have a consistent and contemporary register that supports the enhanced screening programmes.”
The Minister says last month’s announcement to expand the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program combined with the new National Cervical Screening Program provides an opportunity to establish a new streamlined, national screening register.
“The register will support both the expanded Bowel Screening Program and the new Cervical Screening Programs and provide a template for any future national population screening tests,” Ley says.
“It can be difficult to keep track of your screening requirements, which is why we are investing in the creation of a single national screening register for cancers to ensure all Australians can remain up to date.”
She says the new more effective cervical cancer test will detect the HPV infection that causes the abnormal cell changes and replace the current two yearly Pap test.
“As they say, prevention can be as good as a cure and this is important news for Australian women that could literally save their life,” Ley says.
“This particularly applies in the case of common cancers such as cervical cancer, which claims the lives of 250 women annually.’’
Ley says cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and yet currently 80% of women with cervical cancer have not been screened or have not had regular screening test.
“That’s why the Abbott Government is investing in the roll out of this new test for cervical cancer that will prevent an additional 15% of cervical cancer cases while reducing the number of invasive checks from 26 to just nine across a woman’s life.
“This announcement ensures Australia remains a world leader in cancer prevention, becoming just the second country in the world to adopt this new test as part of a national screening program.”
She says the new test works by detecting a HPV infection – the first step in developing cervical cancer – before abnormal cell changes occur. It will only be required once every five years.
It will be made available to women aged 25 to 74 on the Medicare Benefits Schedule from 1 May 2017. It is anticipated that a competitive request for tender for the new National Cancer Screening Register will be released shortly.