Australia’s participation in breast, bowel, and cervical cancer screening programs is to receive a funding boost.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says $10 million will be set aside for research to identify new and innovative approaches.
The money will be shared across eight projects aimed at identifying initiatives to further engage and encourage Australians to participate in regular screenings and focus on early detection.
“Australia’s cancer screening programs are world-leading and it’s simple: we know cancer screening saves lives,” Mr Hunt said in a statement on Saturday.
“This research is critical because the more we can do to understand the challenges preventing Australians from getting regular screenings, the more we can do to innovate the programs, maximise protection and save more lives.”
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women in Australia and more so in those aged over 50.
Mr Hunt says the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program has been rolled out nationally and has the potential to save 84,000 lives by 2040 if participation levels hit 60 per cent.
Currently participation remains below 45 per cent.
The University of Melbourne will receive $1.5 million to trial SMS messaging of patients in general practice to reach those who have not responded to existing bowel cancer screening information.
Australian National University will also receive $1.7 million towards studies to understand why Indigenous cancer rates are higher than the rest of the population.
Meanwhile, the federal government has promised Australia will be the first nation to achieve the World Health Organization’s global goal to eliminate cervical cancer.
While the risk of cervical cancer has significantly decreased over the past 15 years, the University of Melbourne will get $1.4 million to look at the use of self-collection to increase access and equity to screening.
A further $1.4 million will go to support the uptake of screening in people with intellectual disability.
To help improve breast screening participation, the University of Western Australia will receive $800,000 to target obesity-related barriers and ways to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.