Cancer health inequality in regional areas

HEALTH organisations are urging Federal and State Governments to work together to combat cancer health disparities between regional and urban areas.

The latest edition of the Medical Journal of Australia showed that cancer survival rates dropped the further the patient was from urban settings.

The inequality in cancer outcomes between rural and urban patients has remained unchanged for about two decades with a 7% higher mortality rate - equating to about 9000 additional rural deaths in that period.

Authors of the cancer health paper, rural medical oncologists Dr Peter Fox, and Dr Adam Boyce said the disparity was greatest with oesophageal cancer and melanoma.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service (WBHHS) operations director cancer care Raymond Johnson said it had made several investments to combat cancer in the Wide Bay including the building of two purpose built cancer care centres - one at Hervey Bay and one at Bundaberg, to be in service by May 2015, a public private partnership with Oceania Oncology to provide set types of radiation oncology for public patients and the use of telehealth as a method of implementing the Queensland Remote Chemotherapy Supervision program to the service's rural health facilities.

"This time last year these patients were travelling to Brisbane for treatment or opting out of treatment," he said.

"Currently the WBHHS Cancer Care Service is recruiting a second staff specialist medical oncologist at both Hervey Bay and Bundaberg hospitals - further expanding the local cancer care services to public patients."

Cancer Council Queensland spokeswoman Katie Clift said Queenslanders who lived outside the reach of major health centres were more likely to die within five years of their cancer diagnosis.

"There are a range of reasons for the cancer death rate being higher in rural and remote areas - we need a focus from government, community organisations and individuals on prevention and early detection in order to close this gap in the future," she said.
 



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