WA facing cancer surge
WA facing cancer surge

WA faces the biggest growth in cancer cases in the nation over the next decade, tipped to reach more than 19,000 a year by 2024.

Cancer experts say predictions of a 5 per cent rise each year - well above the national average 3.3 per cent and fuelled by the State's population growth - will put more pressure on cancer services and staff. They say it's a wake-up call for WA and shows the need to refocus efforts on prevention and early detection.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report into areas of need for radiation oncology says WA will have more than 13,000 new cancer cases this year but more than 19,100 a year in a decade.

Cancer Council WA, which has been lobbying for more cancer treatment staff such as radiation oncologists, says the projections highlight concerns about the need to boost the workforce and focus more on prevention.

Director of education and research Terry Slevin said WA's figures were growing at the fastest rate nationally, and projections were likely to be conservative.

"The method used to reach the estimates takes no account of the rollout of the national bowel cancer screening program, and once that gets a head of steam it is inevitable that we get a boost in incidence of what is the second-most common cancer," Mr Slevin said.

He said the State should use the predictions when planning how to manage demand for cancer services over the next 10 years.

"We must continue to grow our recruitment and training of the health professionals needed to help the WA cancer patients of the future," Mr Slevin said.

Health Minister Kim Hames said the predicted rise was mostly attributed to WA's growing and ageing population, and age-standardised cancer rates had been consistent over the past decade.

Dr Hames said more than $3.5 million had been provided for education and prevention programs over the past five years.

The Health Department was looking at staffing needs in the public and private sectors.

The West Australian

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