Health: Breast Cancer

Federation Chamber
Monday 24 May 2021

Last month I met with a Forest Lake mum of three, Susan Riley. Last year, at the age of 45, she was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, five years after she started getting regular mammograms because her mother died of the cancer. Susan has done 16 rounds of chemotherapy and radiation and has had a double mastectomy, but the cancer wasn't killed and she still has a malignant tumour. She doesn't know if the tablet chemotherapy she's taking is working. Susan told me, 'It isn't fair. My kids deserve to have a mum.' The most frustrating part of Susan's story is this: she, and thousands of other Australians like her, could easily take a molecular test which checks for certain genes and proteins in cancers, if there was federal funding.

The federal budget was a start, but today I call on the federal government to invest more in molecular testing to enable 80,000 people to find treatment options for their aggressive cancers and help around 12,000 people identify clinical trials likely to effectively treat their cancer over five years. This could save the government $520 million in healthcare costs. But, more importantly, it could change everything for people like Susan Riley. Right now, she's just following medical advice and hoping for the best. That's no way to go through life.

The government needs to invest in a test that gives real hope to those with rare and advanced cancers, and to their families. The answer is right in front of us, and we can't put a price tag on a better life for all Australians with cancer.