Monday, July 9th, 2012 - BioGrid Australia
Victorian researchers have been able to confirm that the national bowel cancer screening program is making a major impact on patient survival.

Using data made available through BioGrid Australia, the researchers have shown that patients diagnosed as a result of a positive screening test have a much higher survival rate than patients presenting with symptoms.

Maureen Turner, CEO of BioGrid Australia, said today that recent analysis from six Victorian hospitals has shown an increased number of early stage cancers diagnosed via the bowel screening programs (43% versus 19%) and a reduced number of patients with advanced cancer (4% versus 18%),” she said.

“This research is further confirmation of the value of the national bowel cancer screening program and the valuable contribution that BioGrid Australia, an innovative medical research platform, is making to furthering our understanding of cancers and other diseases,” she said.

Dr Peter Gibbs and colleagues analysed diagnosis and survival information for 103 patients (all of whom had no symptoms of cancer) diagnosed as the result of a positive stool screening test on the national program.

The patients attended six hospitals in Melbourne: Royal Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Private, Western Hospital, Western Private, Box Hill and Epworth Eastern.

These patients were diagnosed between May 2006 and 2012 and their results were compared to 793 patients of the same age presenting with symptoms over the same timeframe.

“This analysis confirms that patients with a bowel cancer detected by a screening test, long before any symptoms have appeared, have a much improved outcome, with a projected five year survival of 95% compared to 73% for patients of the same age who were diagnosed with symptoms” said Dr Gibbs.

“This research yet again emphasises the ongoing need for and value of Australia’s national bowel screening program which is leading to better survival rates as a direct result of earlier diagnosis.”

Data available through BioGrid Australia was previously used in a campaign to extend the Australian National Bowel Cancer Screening Program to 60 and 70 year olds, by demonstrating the potential savings of early bowel cancer diagnosis.

The research released in 2010 showed that annual bowel cancer treatment costs was likely to increase four-fold to $1 billion over 10 years by 2011, strengthening the economic case for expanding the Government’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

The study by Victorian researchers supported by BioGrid Australia combined Australian screening data with treatment costs and survival rates, providing new evidence of the program’s economic and social benefits. The researchers determined the cost of treating any one patient with bowel cancer at about $55,000 a patient. 

Due to the cost of expensive new therapies treating stage 3 (more advanced) cancers tripled from $25,000 in 1999 to $75,000 and for stage 4 (most advanced), the cost has significantly escalated 10 fold from $6,000 to $61,000.

By screening leading to the detection of early stage cancers which can be dealt with by surgery alone, the substantial cost of treating later stage cancers, including the use of expensive chemotherapy drugs, are avoided. The data available through BioGrid was able to show the cost effectiveness of screening.

The free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program was introduced in 2006. In the 2012 – 2013 Federal Budget, the program was expanded to include Australians turning 60 years of age from 2013 and those turning 70 years of age from 2015.


The expansion of the screening program means that an estimated 1,000 early cancers will be detected each year and between 300 and 500 lives saved annually. This will significantly reduce the burden of bowel cancer on Australians and their families.

Bowel cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, with annually more than 13,000 cases and 4,100 deaths from this disease.

Media inquiries: Penny Underwood, MediaWise, on 03 9818 8540.

Issued on behalf of BioGrid Australia.

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BioGrid Australia


BioGrid Australia (www.biogrid.org.au ) is an innovative medical research platform that facilitates privacy-protected research across many hospitals and medical research institutes. BioGrid provides an online Access Request System by which researchers can apply for access to specific databases. Through this system, the data custodians approve access to their data and a Scientific Expert Review Committee assesses the proposed investigation providing formal ethics approval. Once authorised, researchers can access de-identified data for specified research.
Penny Underwood
P: 03 9818 8540
W: www.biogrid.org.au

Keywords

BIoGrid Australia, bowel cancer, data, patient survival

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