Queenslanders risk cancer death due to late detection

New research shows large numbers of the State’s most common cancers are being diagnosed after they have spread, significantly reducing the chances of survival.

Cancer Council Queensland data* shows 52 per cent of all breast cancers in Queensland women were diagnosed at an advanced stage.

Around 45 per cent of Queenslanders with bowel cancer had advanced cancer, and 15 per cent of Queenslanders with melanoma were diagnosed with a stage three or four cancer.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the findings were alarming.

“Early diagnosis means that the cancer is less likely to have spread, making it easier to treat and improving a person’s chances of survival,” Ms Clift said.

“It’s imperative that all Queenslanders participate in recommended screening to detect cancer early, and also visit their GP if they notice any symptoms or changes.

“For some cancers, like lung, ovarian and pancreatic cancers – there are currently no effective screening programs available and symptoms often don’t appear until later stages of the disease.

“All of us as individuals must take action to detect cancer early.

“We encourage all Queenslanders to participate in recommended screenings for breast, bowel and cervical cancer.

“Queensland women aged 50-74 should have a free mammogram every two years through BreastScreen Queensland.

“By 2020, all Australians aged 50-74 will be eligible to participate in the free bowel cancer screening program every two years.

“All women aged 18 to 70 years who have ever been sexually active should have regular Pap smears every two years.

“It’s also imperative that Queenslanders are aware of some of the common signs and symptoms of cancer.

“Symptoms like a cough or hoarseness that won’t go away, coughing up blood, unexplained weight loss, a lump in neck or armpit or anywhere else on the body, changes in toilet habits that persist for more than two weeks or blood in a bowel motion.

“It is important that these early warning signs are not ignored.

“And all Queenslanders should get to know their own skin – if you see a new spot or lesion, or a change to an existing spot or lesion in shape, colour or size, visit your GP immediately.”

CCQ research shows Queensland women living in outer regional or socioeconomically disadvantaged areas were more likely to be diagnosed with advanced breast cancer than other women.

The risk of being diagnosed with advanced colon cancer was also higher in more regional areas compared with major cities.

“It’s crucial that Queenslanders in remote and regional areas access medical services for early detection,” Ms Clift said.

“We need to ensure early detection messaging is getting through to people in regional Queensland, so men and women seek out screening and take action when they notice the signs and symptoms of cancer.”

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via 13 11 20 or www.cancerqld.org.au.

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland

Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171

*Baade 2012 Time trends and latitudinal differences in melanoma thickness distribution in Australia.
*Baade 2011 Geographic remoteness, area-level socio-economic disadvantage and advanced breast cancer
*Baade 2011 Geographic remoteness and risk of advanced colorectal cancer.