Bowel cancer demands renewed urgency

The Government must act on new calls by medical experts to roll out bowel cancer screening across the country, Labour’s Acting Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“New Zealand has one of the world’s highest rates of bowel cancer - 1200 Kiwis die of bowel cancer every year – yet we have been one of the slowest to take action

“New documents show officials warned former Health Minister Tony Ryall the current demand for diagnostic testing continues to outstrip supply and that almost 10,000 people every year are unable to have a colonoscopy through the public health system.

“That comes just months after cancer experts, writing in the Medical Journal, urged the Government to stop the ‘talk fest’ and make screening more widely available.

“While Labour has already promised to phase in a nationwide rollout the Government has said it won’t move until it has more evidence. With 100 Kiwis dying each month of bowel cancer, how much more evidence does it need?

“A four year pilot screening programme in Waitemata has already proved how successful early diagnosis can be.

“At risk Kiwis must hope that new Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has somewhat more understanding of the urgency of this issue than the last one,” Annette King said.