18 Jun 2009

Parliament to consider screening for prostate cancer

12:04 pm on 18 June 2009

Parliament is to consider a nationwide scheme of early detection and treatment for prostate cancer.

The Health Select Committee has agreed to undertake the inquiry.

Every year in New Zealand, 2000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and about 600 die from it.

Select committee chairperson Paul Hutchison says it is too early to say whether it will recommend a national screening programme.

The committee will meet next week to discuss its terms of reference and hopes to issue a report by the end of the year.

But the Green Party believes it is dangerous for politicians to decide on complex medical issues.

Green MP Kevin Hague sits on the health committee and has also been involved with the Public Health Advisory Committee and the National Screening Advisory Committee.

Mr Hague says when politicians start making complex medical decisions it is a recipe for disaster.

He says clinical judgment is needed to balance the perspectives of the different expert groups involved, not political.