Liberals to cut waiting times for bowel cancer screening


An initiative to deliver vital bowel cancer procedures earlier and prevent cancer progressing will save lives in the electorate of Stuart.

As part of the State Liberals’ $5 million Bowel Cancer Prevention Initiative, the policy commits to:

  1. Eradicate, within 12 months of the election, the overdue waiting list for a colonoscopy after a positive faecal occult blood test;
  2. Regularly publish the numbers and waiting times of people requiring a colonoscopy after a positive bowel cancer test result; and
  3. Pursue the national time target for a colonoscopy after a positive bowel cancer test result.

Member for Stuart Dan van Holst Pellekaan said if detected early, 90% of bowel cancer cases could be successfully treated.

“Under the Weatherill Labor Government, many South Australians are waiting more than a year for these urgent colonoscopies – it is simply not good enough,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.

“With an ageing population in Stuart, policies such as the Bowel Cancer Prevention Initiative will have an immediate impact on our small communities.

“The current clinical consensus is that a person needing a colonoscopy after a positive Faecal Occult Blood Test result should not wait more than 4 months (120 days) and the latest national figures show that South Australia has the longest waits.”

A Marshall Liberal Government will work with health professionals to develop quality, timely care pathways and it may be necessary to engage the private sector to address the backlog.

“The psychological stress for people while they wait for a colonoscopy is tough,” said Shadow Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade.

“Delays in investigation may allow the cancer to develop, increasing the threat it poses.

“This is an area where long waiting times can cost lives and a Marshall Liberal Government will do everything possible as part of the Bowel Cancer Prevention Initiative to reduce the wait.”

Earlier procedures are also a better use of resources: the typical cost of treating cancers that develop from polyps is $36,000 per case – 25 times higher than the cost of removing a precancerous polyp detected through screening.


Local Government statistics in Stuart

Council National Bowel Cancer Screening Program 2012-13 Colorectal Cancer Deaths 2011-2014


Persons who participated FOBT positive result
Light Regional Council 233 25 12
Goyder Regional Council 94 6  
Mid Murray Council 179 6 13
Orroroo Carrieton No data No data No data
Port Augusta City Council 207 18 13
Peterborough No data No data No data
Mount Remarkable 69 5 5
Flinders Ranges Council No data No data 5


Please refer to the above table for the number of people in each council district in Stuart who died from colorectal cancer in the three years to 2014.

It’s important that people take the opportunity to complete the free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program test. If a test result raises concerns they may need a colonoscopy as soon as possible.

The table shows that in one 12-month period alone, the number of people who were tested and returned a positive result.

Our policy will make screening more readily available and will save lives in this area and throughout South Australia.