Date Published: 4 February 2009
World Cancer Day
Today is World Cancer Day.
From this week, women under 50 at high risk of breast cancer and with no symptoms are eligible to receive a Medicare rebate for an MRI breast scan.
The Government also announced today that Australians living with cancer will be able to use four new resources to help them establish and maintain support groups and to contribute to national cancer policy and programs, including research, prevention and treatment.
Being at high risk of breast cancer can cause significant anxiety. MRI scans can help reduce unnecessary concern, and help pick up breast cancer early. This decision will reduce the financial barrier of the cost of a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan to encourage these women in the high risk category to monitor their health.
Women at high risk of breast cancer include, for example, women with three or more close blood relatives diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer.
The launch of the new cancer publications recognises the importance of continually improving the services and support available to people living with cancer, and their families and carers.
Two of the new resources – Cancer support groups: A guide to setting up peer facilitated supports and Cancer support groups: Skills resource for peer facilitators – are tools to help set up and maintain support groups for people living with cancer.
The other two resources –Consumer participation guide and Consumer training and mentoring guide – will help people build their skills to provide insight into the health system and national cancer policy and programs, as well as their ability to mentor other consumers to participate at a national level.
The resources were commissioned by the Australian Government’s national cancer agency, Cancer Australia, which ensures people affected by cancer and their families are central to the Government’s cancer programs.
The Government has also contributed funding to support 44 cancer support groups and networks nationally, through the Building Cancer Support Networks program. This includes support groups specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer and women with gynaecological cancers.
The theme of 2009 World Cancer Day is, “I love my healthy active childhood” and aims to encourage children to be active and eat a healthy diet as being overweight as a child can lead to cancer later in life.
The Australian Government recognises obesity is a serious issue and a cause of major chronic diseases, including some cancers.
The Government has already introduced several initiatives to improve childhood health:
* the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Project to teach children about the
benefits of healthy eating
* the Healthy Kids Check, which provides a health check for all four year olds so they can be healthy, fit and ready to learn when they start school
* the Get Set 4 Life – Habits for Healthy Kids Guide for parents, which provides information about healthy living habits for young children such as healthy diet, regular exercise, sun protection and hygiene
* the National Healthy School Canteens Project to assist school canteens to provide healthy food choices promoting good health through healthy eating to reduce levels of obesity and chronic diseases later in life.
* And last November, the Government announced a record $872 million investment in preventative health.
Despite improved survival rates, more than 100,000 Australians are diagnosed with cancer every year.