NSW Government action needed to stop cancer death surge

Media Release -3 June 2010

Cancer cases and cancer deaths in NSW will soar over the next decade, claiming an extra 14,000 lives1 and placing considerable pressure on patients and the health system, unless the State Government boosts prevention and treatment services.

Cancer Council NSW issued this caution today when releasing a report highlighting five cancer control opportunities that all NSW politicians should commit to in the build up to next year’s state election.

The report Saving Life, why wouldn’t you? urges the NSW Government to:

  • Introduce compulsory licensing for anyone selling tobacco
  • Ban smoking in all outdoor dining areas where food is served
  • Improve financial aid and support for patients travelling to treatment and living away from home
  • Boost radiotherapy services
  • Improve guidelines and systems to ensure patients receive good quality care

“Cancer is on the rise in NSW.   Many thousands more people will be diagnosed, and pressure will mount on the system requiring the Government to address some fundamental issues,” Andrew Penman, CEO of Cancer Council NSW said.

“The NSW Government has made solid commitments in the course of its first cancer plan, but today is about presenting the next top five achievable steps for reducing cancer, boosting treatment and improving support for cancer patients.

“This should involve improving care standards and quality systems, so all patients receive the same quality of care, regardless of their location and financial situation.

“Better reimbursements should be available for patients who have to travel or live away from home during weeks of treatment. Many patients have no or limited incomes, preventing some from getting to treatment in the first place.”

Dr Penman said that smoking was still the biggest killer in our community. He said it should be banned in outdoor dining areas and compulsory licensing should be introduced for anyone who sold tobacco.

“Tobacco is lethal, it kills thousands, and its sale should be licensed. That way, shops found breaking the law, including selling to children can be dealt with in the strongest possible terms,” he said.

“Likewise, fewer than two out of ten people smoke.   Yet, the vast majority have to endure toxic tobacco fumes while sitting outside their favourite restaurant.   This is a health hazard, ruins meals and most people think it is time for smokefree dining.

“We ask all political parties to use their powers to save life – why wouldn’t you?”

For more information go to www.savinglife.com.au or call 13 11 20.

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1. Estimates based on data presented in Tracey E, Ling L, et al. Cancer in New South Wales: Incidence and mortality 2007. Sydney: Cancer Institute NSW; 2009.

Media contacts:

Luke Alexander (02) 9334 1878 / 0413 886 578
Karen Kalpage (02) 9334 1960 / 0411 408 647