BCNA's top five issues for change

One of BCNA’s main priorities is to work with governments and health service providers to ensure that all Australians are able to get affordable access to the latest breast cancer treatment and care.

We have identified five key areas needing improvement from our consultations and research with our members, including through the 2018 State of the Nation project, the 2017 Member Survey and the Financial Impact of Breast Cancer report.

Below are five key areas for change BCNA will focus on in the lead-up to the federal election:

1. Faster access to new and innovative breast cancer treatments and diagnostic tests

In 2019, BCNA will work for:

  • Faster, more flexible processes for new medicines to be approved for use in Australia and listed on the PBS. Currently, it can take years for a new treatment to be listed on the PBS. This can mean women and their families must either find the money to pay for the treatment or accept that a new treatment that may benefit them is unaffordable for them.
  • An extension of the Medicare rebate for breast MRI for:
  • Women over 50 years at high risk of breast cancer because of family history or a genetic mutation
  • Women newly diagnosed for whom a breast MRI could assist their treating teams understand more about the breast cancer and make treatment recommendations
  • Women receiving chemotherapy before surgery for whom a breast MRI could help with planning their surgery.

An extension of the rebate would reduce the number of women paying hundreds of dollars for breast MRIs.

  • The listing of bone strengthening agents on the PBS for early breast cancer as these drugs may reduce the risk of breast cancer recurring (coming back)
  • A Medicare rebate for genomic testing to help people make decisions about whether chemotherapy is right for them.

2. Reducing the financial burden of a breast cancer diagnosis

In 2019, BCNA will lobby for:

  • Adoption of the Cancer Council Australia’s Standard for Informed Financial Consent, which was developed in collaboration with BCNA, the Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia and Canteen. The Standard aims to ensure Australians receive comprehensive, upfront information about the out-of-pocket costs of treatment and what options may be available to them to help reduce or meet these costs.
  • Changes to legislation to allow radiotherapy to be covered by private health insurance.

We will also work with medical societies and other cancer organisations to try to stamp out excessive fees.

3. Improved access to breast reconstruction

In 2019, BCNA will:

  • Continue to work with state and territory governments to improve access to breast reconstruction surgery
  • Lobby to ensure greater awareness and acceptance that breast reconstruction following breast cancer surgery is not a cosmetic procedure
  • Work with GPs to ensure they refer women with breast cancer to breast surgeons who offer breast reconstruction.

4. Improved access to specialised breast cancer nurses or cancer care coordinators for people with metastatic disease

BCNA welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement in January of $27 million for the McGrath Foundation to train 41 additional breast care nurses over the next four years, including 30 nurses dedicated to supporting Australians with metastatic breast cancer.  BCNA and the McGrath Foundation had been lobbying for new government funding to provide more metastatic breast care nurses across the country.

In 2019, BCNA will continue to lobby for increased access to specialised breast care nurses or cancer care coordinators.

5. Better management of lymphoedema

In 2019, BCNA will lobby for:

  • More public health services to support women with breast cancer in the early diagnosis and treatment of lymphoedema
  • A Medicare rebate for lymphoedema therapy
  • The development of a national standard for state and territory compression garment schemes to reduce the variation in these schemes across Australia.

Use your voice for change

If you are affected by any of these issues, you may like to:

Issue 84
Autumn 2019