The breast cancer pink ribbon. Picture: Thinkstock
The breast cancer pink ribbon. Picture: Thinkstock

Why cancer survival rates are improving

NATIONAL screening programs are saving the lives of people with cancer, with ­Australian-first data revealing that survival rates are dramatically better in people diagnosed by preventive tests.

The Cancer Council has seized on the landmark report, issuing a clarion call to Queenslanders to participate in cancer screening.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report has shown for the first time that women diagnosed through BreastScreen Australia had a 69 per cent lower risk of dying from breast cancer before the end of December 2015 than those who had never been screened.

These remarkable results were even better for women ­diagnosed through cervical screening. They had an 87 per cent lower risk of death than those who never had a Pap test, while people diagnosed through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program had a 59 per cent lower chance of death.

Professor Sanchia Aranda.
Professor Sanchia Aranda.

Cancer Council Australia chief executive Sanchia Aranda said the report highlighted the importance of national screening programs.

"Increased participation in Australia's National Bowel Cancer Screening Program presents the greatest single opportunity to prevent cancer deaths in Australia in relation to any established program or service," Professor Aranda said.

"If we can get and keep program participation up to 60 per cent from next year, we could save more than 84,000 Australian lives over the next 20 years."

The 2018 AIWH report, called Analysis of cancer outcomes and screening behaviour for national cancer screening programs in Australia, shows Queensland has one of the lowest rates of bowel screening in the country at just 40 per cent. The breast screening rate is 56 per cent and cervical screening rate is 53 per cent.

"Early detection is a key to good treatment outcomes and the screening programs can detect cancer in the early or precancerous stages, so I would encourage every Australian who is eligible to take part in Australia's screening programs. It could save your life," Prof Aranda said.

Of the breast cancers diagnosed in women aged 50 to 69 in 2002 to 2012, 31,968 were detected through BreastScreen Australia, while 20,245 were diagnosed in women who had never screened.

Of the cervical cancers diagnosed in women aged 20-69 in the same time frame 354 were detected through cervical screening and 1222 were diagnosed in women who had never had a Pap test.

Just over 3300 people aged 50 to 69 were diagnosed through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program while there were 20,217 diagnoses of bowel cancer in people who never screened.

 

 

A pap smear can provide early diagnosis for cervical cancer.
A pap smear can provide early diagnosis for cervical cancer.


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