NEW research into cancer survival rates across regional Australia has provided added impetus to the push for a south-west cancer care centre.
A decade-long study published in the Medical Journal of Australia finds cancer patients in rural communities continue to be at increased risk of death compared to their city counterparts.
Cancer deaths nationwide decreased between 2001 and 2010 but the mortality rate decline was more pronounced in state capitals.
The rate of cancer deaths among rural women actually increased during the surveyed period.
Peter’s Project founder Vicki Jellie said the new research was consistent with plenty of similar studies during the past decade.
She said the construction of a cancer care centre based in Warrnambool would play a significant role in reducing the region’s cancer mortality rate.
“We said since Peter’s Project started, that for every 100 kilometres you live away from radiotherapy treatment, the risk rises by six per cent,” Ms Jellie told The Standard.
“This latest research reaffirms what we’ve been saying for some time.”
The state government has committed $15 million towards construction of the centre, with the federal government pledging a further $10 million towards the initiative.
Peter’s Project is undertaking a fund-raising drive to generate $5 million from community donations.
One of the report authors, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute researcher Michael Coory, said extra investment in strategic planning is needed to counter the urban-rural divide.
It is stated in the report that regional Australia’s higher average age could be a contributing factor in the heightened level of cancer deaths in country areas.
The report suggests more accommodation support for patients who need to travel to metropolitan centres, virtual multidisciplinary teams and fly-in, fly-out services as ways of closing the cancer mortality gap.
The research found the most common form of cancers striking regional patients included lung, prostate, oesophagus and colorectal.