Bold move on colorectal screening by Health Minister welcomed by Cancer Control Council

Friday 30 May 2008, 8:41AM
By Pete Hodgson

The Cancer Control Council of New Zealand is delighted the Minister of Health David Cunliffe, has fast tracked a colorectal screening programme, says council deputy chair and oncologist Chris Atkinson.

The council, which provides the Minister of Health and the cancer community with independent advice on cancer issues, recommended to former Minister of Health Pete Hodgson in 2007, that a colorectal screening programme be implemented.

``The Ministry of Health estimated that it would take 2 years to complete the feasibility study but the council has advised the Minister that if we seek help from Australia we can get the programme up and running much quicker than that. New South Wales are ready to deliver their screening programme and we know health advisors there will be more than willing to offer advice and support to get the same lifesaving programme operating on this side of the Tasman.’’

``This decision is the sort of bold leadership that we need in the health sector and the Council is confident that the cancer community will pull together to make this programme happen.’’

``While all cancers have a huge impact on the community, these particular cancers are of major importance.’’

Around 2,700 New Zealanders develop colorectal or bowel cancer every year and about 1,200 people will die. Colorectal cancer affects both women and men and although it is not as prevalent in Maori and Pacific populations, the mortality rate amongst Maori and Pacific people is increasing.

``The biggest challenge will be to ensure we have the workforce with the expertise to deliver this programme.’’

``The council is looking forward to providing the Minister with regular updates on the Ministry’s progress in implementing a national colorectal screening programme,’’ Professor Atkinson concluded.