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Advocacy

BCNA advocates on behalf of Australians affected by breast cancer to ensure their voices are heard.

Our top five priorities for change in 2019 

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.

These five priority areas, outlined below, will be the basis for our policy work during 2019 and our submissions 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 Statement 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 government 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 governments to improve access to breast reconstruction surgery.
      • Lobby to ensure great awareness and acceptance that breast reconstruction following breast cancer surgery is not a cosmetic procedure.
      • Work with GPs to ensure they refer Australians 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.

Joining the conversation

In addition to the five advocacy priorities outlined above, BCNA will join the conversation on a range of issues including:

  • The early detection of breast cancer in young women 
    ► ensuring breast symptoms in young woman are investigated appropriately.
  • Shared follow-up care for early breast cancer 
    ► ensuring the perspective of women who have had a diagnosis of early breast cancer is central to the development of the national framework for this model of care.
  • Breast density 
    ► development of clinical practice guidelines for the management of breast density so that women with dense breasts can be better informed of their breast cancer risk and how they can be best screened for breast cancer
    ► national implementation of the WA BreastScreen program that advises all women with dense breasts that their screening mammogram is less sensitive to cancers and they should speak to their GP if they would like further information on additional screening options such as breast ultrasound, tomosynthesis or breast MRI.

You can use your voice for change!

If you are affected by any of these issues, you may like to write to your local Member of Parliament or share your story with us by emailing policy@bcna.org.au.

If there is another issues that is affecting you or someone you know, BCNA would like to hear about it. You can get in touch with us at policy@bcna.org.au.