Cancer health inequalities between regional and urban Australia remain despite recent progress,
according to a report in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Rural Medical Oncologists Peter Fox and Adam Boyce called on state and federal governments to “ensure equitable cancer care for all Australians, regardless of where they reside”.
Cancer survival rates drop the further the patient is from urban settings, as evidence over the past 20 years clearly shows, Fox and Boyce write.
Over the decade to 2010, the disparity between rural and urban patients has remained unchanged with a 7% higher cancer mortality, equating to almost 9,000 additional rural deaths.
The disparity was greatest with oesophageal cancer and melanoma.
Despite the establishment of the regional cancer centre initiative announced by the federal government in 2010, significant inequalities remain, and “novel approaches are being increasingly adopted”.
Those approaches include telehealth, shared care and surgical oncology networks, Fox and Boyce write.
The authors also recommended the adoption of a national standard staffing profile for rural oncology units in order to “deliver uniform care”.
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