An initiative to deliver vital bowel cancer procedures earlier and prevent cancer progressing will save lives in the Riverland.
As part of the State Liberals’ $5 million Bowel Cancer Prevention Initiative, the 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.
Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone said if detected early, 90 per cent of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated.
In the Loxton Waikerie and Berri Barmera council areas, 20 people died from colorectal cancer in the three years to 2014.
In one 12-month period alone, 51 of the 615 people who were tested in the Loxton Waikerie, Berri Barmera and Renmark Paringa Council areas returned a positive result.
"Under the Weatherill Labor Government, many South Australians are waiting more than a year for urgent colonoscopies - it is simply not good enough," said Mr Whetstone.
"With an ageing population in the Riverland, policies such as the Bowel Cancer Prevention Initiative will have an immediate impact on our small communities.
"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) and the latest national figures show that South Australians have the longest wait.
"Our policy will make screening more readily available and will save lives in this area and throughout South Australia." Contact: Tim Whetstone 0428 617 800
A Marshall Liberal Government will work with health professionals to develop quality, timely care pathways and it may be necessary to engage the private sector to address the backlog.
"The psychological stress for people while they wait for a colonoscopy is tough," said Shadow Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade.
"Delays in investigation may allow the cancer to develop, increasing the threat it poses.
"This is an area where long waiting times can cost lives and a Marshall Liberal Government will do everything possible as part of the Bowel Cancer Prevention Initiative to reduce the wait.
"It’s important that people take the opportunity to complete the free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program test. If a test result raises concerns they may need a colonoscopy as soon as possible."
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.