Cancer has been a prominent policy issue in Australia for decades. In 1996, cancer control was declared a National Health Priority Area by Australian health ministers in an initiative to focus public attention and health policy on areas which contributed significantly to the burden of disease in Australia and for which there is potential for health gain. 13 Major initiatives over the last 15-20 years have included:13
- introduction of organised screening programs for cervical, breast and colorectal cancers
development of the National service improvement framework for cancer17, establishment of the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre and Cancer Australia
- development and implementation of cancer control plans and strategies in most jurisdictions
- widespread promotion of evidence based care, supported by national evidence-based guidelines for prevention, screening and treatment for the most frequently encountered cancers.
Cancer Australia is an Australian Government agency established to provide national leadership in cancer control. It aims to reduce the impact of cancer on the Australian community and to lessen the divide in outcomes for groups of people with cancer whose survival rates or cancer experiences are poorer. Cancer Australia was established to: 13
- Coordinate and liaise between the wide range of organisations, groups and service providers with an interest in cancer care and support
- Guide improvements in cancer prevention and care
- Ensure treatments are based on the best available evidence
- Make recommendations to the Australian Government about cancer policy and priorities
- Work with the research community to develop and fund research programs for improving cancer prevention and care
- Help implement Australian Government policies and programs in cancer control
The following issues have been identified for current cancer control initiatives in Australia:4
- Continuing challenges to
- prevent more cancers
- diagnose cancers earlier
- treat cancers more effectively
- Efforts must be distributed equally across different population subgroups
- Recognition that the growing and aging population is expected to lead to a greater impact on the health care system.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) introduced a new set of health performance indicators (PIs), which aim to report on the goals of the health system and reflect the roles and responsibilities of governments in managing and providing health services. Australian and state and territory health authorities have committed to regularly report on these performance indicators and benchmarks, five of which relate to cancer and are reported by the AIHW. The five cancer-related performance indicators are:5
- incidence of selected cancers (PI 4)
- 5-year relative survival of people diagnosed with cancer (PI 44)
- screening participation rates for cervical, breast and bowel cancer (PIs 10, 11 and 12, respectively).
Access the National service improvement framework for cancer17 and complete the following:
- Identify the Critical Intervention Points to “Reduce risk” and “Find Cancer early”.
- Briefly describe the rationale for including these as priority actions.
- Describe the role of nurses in contributing to initiatives within these Critical Intervention Points.
Access your relevant state or territory cancer plan and summarise the key priorities and initiatives.