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Bowel Cancer Australia Calls For More Colonoscopy Funding

Bowel Cancer Calls

With new statistics revealing long waiting lists across the country, including Melbourne, are continuing to grow, Bowel Cancer Australia is calling on the Federal and State Governments to increase funding for more colonoscopies. This comes after the release of a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) which showed that after a positive screening, 84 percent of people did not have a colonoscopy within the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended one-month timeframe. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program: monitoring report 2018 was alarming to Bowel Cancer Australia since research showing waiting periods longer than 120 days leads to poor outcomes.

Direct Endoscopy in Melbourne is one of the largest providers of colonoscopy services in Victoria, with 20 years of experience –

We also have four Day Hospitals in the Melbourne metropolitan area

Long Wait Times For Colonoscopies ‘Unacceptable’

Across Australia, the waiting lists for colonoscopies is long, with the wait times now drastically exceeding one month. Some States are experiencing even longer wait times, according to recent data(1). Bowel Cancer Australia CEO Julien Wiggins says it’s unacceptable that anyone has to wait for six months, and in some case even longer, for a colonoscopy to find out whether or not they have bowel cancer. He says research clearly shows that waiting any longer than 120 days for a colonoscopy after a positive result from a screening, or for people experiencing bowel cancer symptoms, are both linked to poor outcomes. On the Bowel Cancer Australia website, Mr Wiggins says a colonoscopy isn’t exactly the kind of procedure for which many people would willingly queue, and yet so many queues are in the thousands. This only creates more worry and anxiety for the patients and their families, while they wait to find out whether it’s cancer or not.

If you have your colonoscopy at Direct Endoscopy in Melbourne, you’ll enjoy a warm and friendly atmosphere, with our highly qualified gastrointestinal specialists and staff offering the very best in patient care.

Why a Colonoscopy is Needed After a Positive Screen

  • Bowel cancer is the second most deadly cancer in Australians (lung cancer is first)
  • It’s estimated one in 13 people will develop cancer
  • There’s a sharp rise in the risk of bowel cancer after age 50
  • A free stool test done at home is available through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and people are strongly encouraged to use it
  • The good news is, 90 percent of cases of bowel cancer can be treated successfully if found early, so people are encouraged to do the free test, and if necessary have a colonoscopy, according to Bowel Cancer Australia

Bowel cancer causes are unknown, however, age and diet are contributing factors and those at higher risk have polyps and a family history of bowel cancer. Other high-risk factors are problems such as inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. A colonoscopy is used to diagnose all of these conditions.

At Direct Endoscopy Melbourne, we’re happy to see anyone who needs a colonoscopy at any time, and at short notice – no long waiting list

We can access the public hospital system and have admitting rights to major public hospitals in Melbourne

High Demand For Colonoscopies in the Future

As the population ages and the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program enlarges, the demand for colonoscopies is expected to be more than one million per year by 2021, according to Mr Wiggins. He says the lack of funding by Federal and State Governments is causing severe consequences, with delays in being able to have colonoscopies now putting lives at risk. Mr Wiggins welcomes recent funding commitments made by both the Victorian and South Australian Governments but says there must be ongoing commitments to ensure there are timely colonoscopies available, given the projections on future demand. If doctors are to effectively detect and treat Australia’s second deadliest cancer, then all governments across Australia need to provide significant funds for diagnostic colonoscopy, Mr Wiggins says.

Low Participation in Bowel Cancer Screening

Only 40 per cent of people over 50 who receive the free at-home test in the mail actually do the test, which could save their lives if bowel cancer is detected and they have a colonoscopy in time. But add this to the long waiting times for colonoscopies for anyone who does do the test and it comes back positive, and the number of people receiving the proper, timely treatment is lessened. Colorectal surgeon and Bowel Cancer Australia director, Dr Graham Newstead, says anyone whose screen test shows up as positive, or if they have bowel cancer symptoms, should have a well-timed follow-up colonoscopy or the chance for early, life-saving, detection is gone.If you have bowel problems and need a colonoscopy, call Direct Endoscopy today on 9781 5959 and make an appointment at any of our 4 convenient locations in Melbourne – Many appointment available.


Dr David Badov
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