With recent studies indicating that thousands of Australians die each year from cancers that could have been detected early by regular screening, there are fears that this number may rise further due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One research pointed out that breast cancer screenings in April 2020 were down 98 per cent compared with April 2018. While this was mostly due to BreastScreen Australia closures during the early stages of COVID-19, even at-home testing cancer rates were down. More recent Cancer Council figures show that only four in 10 people currently participate in regular bowel cancer screening – but increasing that to just six in 10 could save 84,000 lives over 20 years.
Against this backdrop, and alongside the personal experience of having lost both their grandmothers to cancer, twin sisters Lidia Nancovski and Lana Klimovski are launching their Doctors.com.au portal as a platform to save lives.
The sisters have partnered nationally with Cancer Council Australia to deliver vital reminders to people about the need for regular screenings and health checks.
“Prevention and early detection is a focus for us, so when Lidia and Lana came to us with their vision for Doctors.com.au, we were inspired,” Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said.” Their platform focuses on the ongoing healthcare we all need. That means things like reminders for your next screening and age-dependent regular check-ups. We are really looking forward to the journey ahead with Doctors.com.au.”
Doctors.com.au’s AI-driven website will use metrics such as age, gender and the date an individual last attended an appointment to send targeted messages to them about regular cancer screenings, along with Cancer Council push notifications to increase general awareness about cancer-related issues.
The website is also a portal for patients to search for and book appointments and enables medical practices to more effectively manage patient care including scheduling – and particularly follow-ups and reminders. On top of this, $1 from each new patient booking is donated to Cancer Council Australia.
“It was heartbreaking seeing one grandmother going through chemotherapy for cervical cancer, and the other for breast cancer, and watching their health deteriorate,” Nancovski said.
“For our grandmothers’ generation, they really didn’t have the knowledge or the understanding about the need for regular check-ups – or felt uncomfortable about having them,” Klimovski said. “We want to ensure more people are aware of the need – and in fact are having the check-ups and screenings.”
Cancer Council Australia CEO Tanya Buchanan said that detecting cancers – and even pre-cancerous indicators – early enough was crucial to successful treatment and survival rates.
“More than 70 per cent of all cervical cancers detected are in women who have never screened or are overdue,” Buchanan said.
Nancovski and Klimovski said that the pandemic highlighted the need for people to take control of their health, and that it revealed a real need for an improvement in preventative healthcare, something they aspire to do with their platform.
For the sisters, more people booking appointments via Doctors.com.au is not just good for business, but also “means more illness and deaths hopefully being prevented”.