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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Doubling risk of bowel cancer diagnosis before 40 sparks action

Health Industry Hub | March 19, 2024 |

Pharma News: Bowel Cancer Australia, in collaboration with co-chairs Steve Georganas MP and the Hon Dr David Gillespie MP, has announced the launch of the Parliamentary Friends of Bowel Cancer. This non-partisan forum serves as a pivotal platform for parliamentarians to engage with Bowel Cancer Australia and delve into discussions pertinent to the disease.

The genesis of this initiative can be traced back to the inaugural 2023 Call on Canberra event, where early-onset patients had the opportunity to interface with MPs and Senators. The launch of the Parliamentary Friends of Bowel Cancer witnessed the poignant testimonies of two patients, shedding light on the profound impact of early-onset bowel cancer and delineating the imperative policy priorities aimed at enhancing health outcomes for those grappling with the disease.

Despite Australia experiencing a decline in bowel cancer incidence and mortality among individuals aged 50 and above, there has been a disquieting surge in early-onset cases, particularly among those under the age of 50. In fact, the risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer before the age of 40 has more than doubled since the year 2000.

Reflecting on this concerning trend, Bowel Cancer Australia CEO, Julien Wiggins, emphasised the urgency of collaborative action.

“We are grateful to Mr Georganas and Dr Gillespie for their commitment to co-chairing the Parliamentary Friends of Bowel Cancer, and for the unwavering support of MPs and Senators in rallying behind this cause,” remarked Julien Wiggins.

Drawing attention to the gravity of the situation, Mr Wiggins stated “Bowel cancer stands as the deadliest cancer and the sixth leading cause of death overall for Australians aged 25-44. The ramifications of late-stage diagnosis in younger demographics are manifold, exacerbating challenges related to aggressive treatment, psychosocial impact, and compromised quality of life, particularly in areas such as fertility and ostomy management.”

During 2023, Bowel Cancer Australia launched research which revealed younger people with bowel cancer symptoms found themselves self-advocating as the only consistent and reliable resource for overcoming age bias, barriers to diagnosis, and optimising outcomes for the deadliest cancer in those aged 25-44.

Queensland Senator James McGrath said “Now more than ever, it is time to recognise and react to a growing issue facing many young Australians. Now is the time to focus on things like prevention, early screening, early detection and normalising the idea that bowel cancer isn’t just a killer of older Australians – that, in reality, it’s a destroyer of all Australians, no matter their age.”

Amidst the backdrop of these pressing concerns, Bowel Cancer Australia has delineated key advocacy objectives aimed at driving tangible change. These include advocating for increased investment in primary care funding to combat age bias, securing funding and implementation of screening from the age of 45 in alignment with updated clinical practice guidelines, and increasing funding for colonoscopy services to ensure adherence to clinically recommended wait times of less than 30 days within the public healthcare system.

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