Surgery waiting times for cancer patients


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Surgery waiting times for cancer patients

Cancer is the leading cause of deathv in Australia and can affect men and women at any stage of lifevi. Early detection is crucial as a diagnosis can have life-changing outcomes. Being aware of the warning signs, such as lumps or spots on the skin, is one of the most basic steps you can take towards receiving effective treatment as early as possiblevii.

In 2012-13, the majority of elective cancer related surgeries were completed within 30 days of the patient being placed on the waiting list.

Waiting times for surgeries

There was a total of 13,697 elective or planned surgeries for malignant bowel, breast and lung cancer in public Australian hospitals during 2012-13vii,ix,x. Most surgeries for these types of cancer are deemed to be urgent or semi-urgent and are expected to be completed within 30 or 90 days respectivelyviii. Ninety-two percent of these surgeries were completed within 30 days during 2012-13 while 97 per cent of patients underwent their surgeries within 45 daysviii.

Malignant type of cancer Total number of surgeries Percentage of patients receiving surgery within 30 days 2012-2013 Percentage of patients receiving surgery within 45 days 2012-2013
Bowel 4,533 88% 95%
Breast 8,077 96% 99%
Lung 1,087 90% 97%

Total number of surgeries for malignant bowel, breast and lung cancer and the percentage of patients who received their surgeries within 45 days in Australian public hospitals.

There were marginal changes in the wait times and number of surgeries for malignant bowel, breast and lung cancer surgeries between 2011-12 and 2012-13viii.

Changes in total surgery wait times for patients with malignant bowel, breast and lung cancer from 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Year Total number of patients receiving surgery for malignant owel, breast and lung cancer Percentage of patients receiving surgery within 30 days Percentage of patients receiving surgery within 45 days
2011-2012 12,699 91% 97%
2012-2013 12,927 92% 97%

In some cases, patients had to wait over 60 days to receive their surgeries, with three public hospitals taking up to 90 days for at least 90 per cent of their patients to undergo surgeryviii.

Cancer in Australia

Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, bowel, breast and lung cancers are some of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Australiav. It is estimated that 128,000 new cases of cancer will have been diagnosed in Australia during 2014 and that number is expected to increase to 150,000 per year by 2020v. In 2009, the average age for cancer diagnosis was 65.4 years oldxi, with 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women expected to be diagnosed with some form of cancer by age 85xi. Over the last twenty years, the survival rate for many patients diagnosed with cancer has increased by 30 per centv.

Early diagnosis can greatly increase the chances of survival. Patients diagnosed with early stages of bowel cancer, for example, have a 90 per cent chance of surviving five years after the diagnosisxii. The advancements in treatments and early detection technologies have not only helped to increase survival rates, but have also increased the costs of cancer treatments. Private health cover can go a long way towards covering treatment costsxiii.

Life cover can help you or your family with the day-to-day expenses in the event of death or critical illness.

Benefits of life cover

While private health cover can help ease the financial burden of treating cancer, it won't help with other expenses, including any financial burden on your family after death. It is important to be prepared in the event you or a family member is diagnosed with cancer or another type of terminal or debilitating illness. Everyday expenses, such as the cost of housing or raising children, keep increasing. The appropriate insurance can help ease some of the financial stress.

Critical Illness cover can help your loved ones meet ongoing financial costs, such as school fees and groceries in the event of a serious illness. Life insurance can help your family maintain their standard of living in the event of death and can help pay for other expenses. Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) cover, also known as Permanently Unable to Work cover can help maintain your standard of living if you are suddenly unable to work due to a disability. Visit Allianz online for a quote.


iBetter Health Channel 2014, Cancer, viewed 6 January 2015,
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Cancer_explained?open

iiBetter Health Channel 2014, Bowel cancer, viewed 6 January 2015,
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/bowel_cancer

iiiBetter Health Channel 2013, Breast cancer, viewed 6 January 2015,
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Breast_cancer

ivBetter Health Channel 2013, Lung cancer, viewed 6 January 2015,
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Lung_cancer

vCancer Council Australia 2014, Facts and figures, viewed 25 November 2014,
http://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/what-is-cancer/facts-and-figures.html

viUniversity Cancer Centers 2014, Cancer doesn't discriminate, viewed 26 November 2014,
http://www.universitycancercenters.com/#!Cancer-Doesn%E2%80%99t-Discriminate/ceqp/7743C0E2-97E1-4260-8E11-3FBE387EC7CF

viiCancer Council Australia 2013, Early detection, viewed 26 November 2014,
http://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/early-detection/

viiiNational Health Performance Authority 2014, Hospital Performance: Cancer surgery waiting times in public hospitals in 2012–13, viewed 26 November 2014,
http://www.myhospitals.gov.au/docs/default-source/our-report-pdfs/HP_CancerSurgeryWaitingTimes_2012_13_RPT.pdf

ixAustralian Institute of Health and Welfare 2013, Admitted patient care NMDS 2012-13, viewed 8 January 2015,
http://meteor.aihw.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/466132

xNational Health Performance Authority 2014, Hospital Performance: Cancer surgery waiting times in public hospitals in 2012–13 Technical Supplement, viewed 8 January 2015,
http://www.myhospitals.gov.au/docs/default-source/our-report-pdfs/HP_CancerSurgeryWaitingTimes_2012_13_TECH.pdf

xiAustralian Government Cancer Australia 2014, Cancer in Australia statistics, viewed 25 November 2014,
http://canceraustralia.gov.au/affected-cancer/what-cancer/cancer-australia-statistics

xiiBowel Cancer Australia, Bowel Cancer – the facts, viewed 7 January 2015,
https://www.bowelcanceraustralia.org/bca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=163&Itemid=289#facts

xiiiPrivate Health Insurance Ombudsman, What is covered by private health insurance? , viewed 7 January 2015,
http://www.privatehealth.gov.au/healthinsurance/whatiscovered/privatehealth.htm