The Independent Member for Clark, Kristie Johnston, has written to the Premier in his capacity as Health Minister calling on the government to implement a free bowel cancer testing program for Tasmanians aged between 45 and 50.
Currently those aged 50-74 are eligible for a free testing kit, but Ms Johnston said that an increase in bowel cancer rates incidence in younger and middle aged populations is an opportunity for the state government to be proactive;
“The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program offers free screening for those aged between 50 and 74, but I’m quite concerned about the risk to Tasmanians in the 45 to 50 bracket.
“Considering we have some of the highest rates of bowel cancer in Australia, a scheme in Tasmania that targets the 45-50 age bracket could not only compliment the national program, but also potentially outweigh future costs to our health system,” Ms Johnston said.
Studies show that a 45-year old today has the same bowel cancer risk a 50 year-old had 10 years ago, and for several years Bowel Cancer Australia has been publicly calling for a lowering of the free screening age to 45.
“Those people in the 45-50 year demographic are at the busiest time of their lives. They have young children, work full-time, care for aging parents and unfortunately, their own health and wellbeing may not be a priority. Considering the rates of bowel cancer in younger people has been climbing over the last few decades, making these kits available to a younger demographic is essential,” Ms Johnston said.
“Giving access to free testing five years earlier than recommended could make a huge difference in early detection and intervention and potentially save lives.”