South West Sydney residents set to benefit from new cancer detection project

School of Medicine sign 

A new project funded by the Cancer Institute NSW to assist people in South West Sydney access services to detect and treat colorectal cancers will be lead by Dr Ian Turner, Conjoint Senior Lecturer in the University of Western Sydney School of Medicine.

The project, with support from the South Western Sydney Local Health District, will provide colonoscopies within four weeks for all uninsured patients, but particularly for traditionally disadvantaged groups who might miss out on early investigation and treatment such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Maori and Pacific Islander communities, other culturally and linguistically diverse groups, pensioners and health-care card holders.

"These people often are unable to pay for specialist visits. Consequently, there could be a significant delay in diagnosis of a large colonic polyp or colonic cancer," says Dr Turner.

GPs will refer their patients for open access colonoscopy if there is evidence of gastrointestinal bleeding and a Clinical Nurse Specialist will guide patients seamlessly through the colonoscopy appointment process.

The new project helps address one of the key priorities of the NSW Cancer Plan 2011-2015 - to reduce the incidence of cancer and improve the survival of people with cancer.

In 2014, about 16,980 Australians will be diagnosed with bowel cancer (9,250 in men and 7,730 in women).

Colorectal cancer is the second commonest malignancy in men and women.

"Socially, ethnically and financially disadvantaged groups often present later with cancer than the general community and are also more likely to forego screening, so have poorer prognoses," says Dr Turner.

"It is important to target potentially disadvantaged individuals to reduce the burden of cancer in the community."

Unfortunately, residents of Campbelltown are among those who are least likely to have colonoscopies early.

Colon cancer arises from colonic polyps. Screening for polyps and subsequently removing them reduces the incidence of colon cancer.

Faecal occult blood screening followed by colonoscopy for positive FOBT results in improved prognosis of colon cancer by removal of pre-cancerous adenomatous polyps and by detecting and subsequently allowing surgical resection of earlier stage colon cancers than would be found by waiting for symptomatic cancers to present.

The $90,000 project, which commences in April 2015, will be delivered to patients through Campbelltown Hospital where Dr Turner is also Head of the Department of Gastroenterology.


9 March 2015

Media contact: Paul Grocott, Senior Media Officer

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