Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says World Cancer Day is an opportunity to focus on what more can be done to further improve cancer services.
“Tomorrow is World Cancer Day and it’s timely to think about family and friends who have been touched by cancer,” says Dr Coleman.
“While cancer is New Zealand’s leading cause of death, outcomes for people with cancer continue to improve. In 2011, 63 per cent of cancer patients survived five years after diagnosis, up from 57 per cent in 1999.
“For some cancers, including breast, prostate and melanoma, more than 80 per cent of patients live at least five years.
“Kiwis are receiving better, faster cancer treatment and more support during their care as a result of the Government’s $63 million faster cancer treatment programme.
“There are a number of new initiatives this year which will help to further improve early detection of cancer, and build on the faster cancer treatment programme.
“The national bowel screening programme begins in Wairarapa and Hutt Valley DHBs in July. Once fully implemented the programme will invite more than 700,000 people for screening every two years. In the early screening rounds, around 500-700 cancers are expected to be detected each year.
“A prostate cancer support tool will be available later this year to help men and their families make better decisions about testing and treatment options, and another support tool is being developed for primary care.
“There will be a focus on further improving radiation therapy treatment across the country through a set of actions set out in the Radiation Oncology Plan 2017–2021 which will be released early this year.
“There will also be a renewed focus on delivering innovative services to adolescents and young adults with cancer, supported by the Core Standards of Care for Adolescents and Young Adults which will be launched in April.
“A number of initiatives are also delivering good results. One big success has been the introduction of cancer nurse coordinators who are helping to reduce stress on more than 1,000 patients a month by streamlining the diagnostic and treatment process.
“They are working closely with over 30 psychologists and social workers across the country who are providing for the emotional and social support needs of patients.
“A $124 million funding boost for Pharmac in Budget 2016 has seen increased access to new medicines, including treatments for breast cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and advanced melanoma.”