Budget 2005-06 - National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

As part its Strengthening Cancer Care initiative in the 2005-06 Budget, the Australian Government has allocated $43.4 million over three years for the phasing in of a national bowel cancer screening program.

Page last updated: 10 May 2005

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10 May 2005
ABB044/05

About 90 Australians die each week from bowel cancer. This cancer can be treated successfully if detected in its early stages, but currently fewer than 40 per cent of bowel cancers are detected early.

As part of its Strengthening Cancer Care initiative in the 2005-06 Budget, the Australian Government has allocated $43.4 million over three years for the phasing in of a national bowel cancer screening program.

This funding includes $7.8 million announced in the 2004-05 Budget for the Bowel Cancer Screening Pilot program.

All Australians turning 55 or 65, almost a million people in total, will be invited to participate in screening for bowel cancer from mid 2006.

An evaluation of the screening program will be completed prior to the 2008 Budget to guide the Government’s further consideration of the structure and shape of a future national bowel cancer screening program.

People participating in the program will be invited to complete a simple test in the privacy of their own home and mail it in for analysis. These screening tests have been shown in overseas clinical trials and in the Australian pilot program to be simple but highly effective. Participants with a positive result will be referred by their GP for further tests, usually a colonoscopy.

Funding to phase in a national screening program follows the success of the Bowel Cancer Screening Pilot Program begun in 2000. The pilot program assessed the feasibility, acceptability and cost effectiveness of a national program in Australia.

Approximately 57,000 people aged between 55-74 years were invited to participate in the pilot program. 67 people had cancers and 217 people had pre-cancerous growths detected thanks to the pilot program.

Media contact: Kate Miranda, 0417 425 227 (Minister Abbott's Office)