True cost of curse

Ex­perts call for ur­gent ac­tion on ag­o­nis­ing con­di­tion

The Courier-Mail - - FRONT PAGE - EX­CLU­SIVE JACKIE SINNERTON

THE un­der-recog­nised con­di­tion en­dometrio­sis is cost­ing Aus­tralia an eye-wa­ter­ing $9.7 bil­lion each year, with suf­fer­ers out of pocket on aver­age $31,000 an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port.

The shock find­ings have sparked re­searchers to call for im­me­di­ate gov­ern­ment ac­tion.

THE un­der-recog­nised con­di­tion en­dometrio­sis is cost­ing Aus­tralia an eye-wa­ter­ing $9.7 bil­lion each year, with suf­fer­ers out of pocket on aver­age $31,000 an­nu­ally.

The huge cost of en­dometrio­sis is re­vealed to­day in an Aus­tralian study pub­lished in the jour­nal PLOS ONE.

The shock find­ings have sparked re­searchers to call for im­me­di­ate pol­icy ac­tion fo­cused on bet­ter man­age­ment of the un­bear­able pain re­ported to them by many women.

En­dometrio­sis af­fects one in every 10 Aus­tralian women, with the aver­age di­ag­no­sis tak­ing seven to 10 years.

Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt last year launched the Na­tional Ac­tion Plan for En­dometrio­sis, the first blue­print seek­ing to im­prove treat­ment, un­der­stand­ing and aware­ness.

But the lead au­thor of the study, Western Syd­ney Univer­sity NICM Health Re­search In­sti­tute’s Dr Mike Ar­mour, said that the na­tional ac­tion plan needed to pri­ori­tise im­prov­ing pain con­trol be­cause this was the most sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor to the eco­nomic im­pact.

“More ap­plied re­search is needed to as­sess the true preva­lence rate of en­dometrio­sis, to de­ter­mine these eco­nomic im­pacts with greater ac­cu­racy and guide ur­gent clin­i­cal and pol­icy re­sponses,” Dr Ar­mour said.

“Women in Aus­tralia with en­dometrio­sis or other causes of chronic pelvic pain in­cur a sub­stan­tial fi­nan­cial bur­den caused by their con­di­tion.

“As well as health care costs, the pain they ex­pe­ri­ence can re­sult in time off work and a re­duc­tion in pro­duc­tiv­ity, both at work and out­side of work,” he said.

The re­searchers found more than three-quar­ters of the costs were due to pro­duc­tiv­ity loss. They found that women with en­dometrio­sis of­ten re­port in­ad­e­quate pain man­age­ments mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to go to work.

Dr Ar­mour said that a push to re­duce this pain could re­duce loss of pro­duc­tiv­ity, along with im­prov­ing qual­ity of life.

Ka­t­rina Scott, 32, from Red­cliffe (pic­tured), was di­ag­nosed with en­dometrio­sis 10 years ago. She spent years in so much pain that she would black out. It took five years to be di­ag­nosed.

She has had sev­eral la­paroscopy surg­eries, which can re­move the en­dometrio­sis.

“Some years were more costly than oth­ers, but I would say I have spent an aver­age of $15,000 to $20,000 an­nu­ally over the decade. This con­di­tion is so mis­un­der­stood. Even when I was buck­led in pain, I had one doc­tor tell me to go home and live with it,” Ms Scott said. ED­I­TO­RIAL P34

Even when I was buck­led in pain I had one doc­tor tell me to go home and live with it KA­T­RINA SCOTT

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