Breast Cancer Network Australia's State of the Nation report shows that despite major advances in treatment and services and improvements to the health system over the past 20 years, the gold standard of breast cancer care that Australians should expect is still not available to everyone.
The report was conducted over 18 months and details 15,000 experiences of people living with breast cancer while highlighting the gaps that still exist. Among the stories are reports of Australians:
- waiting more than five years for breast reconstruction surgery
- being dismissed by GPs as ‘too young to have breast cancer’ if aged under 40
- in rural areas electing not to have some treatments due to lack of locally available services
- unable to access adequate therapy and support for lymphoedema, a debilitating and disfiguring condition that affects one in five people with breast cancer
- with metastatic (incurable) breast cancer unable to access the same level of support as those with early breast cancer – including support from a breast care nurse
- having no access to publicly-funded diagnostic mammography in some states and territories.
The report contains a range of recommendations for federal and state governments, health professionals, researchers and health providers to address the financial, emotional and service gaps that exist and ensure that patient-centered care informs every decision in health care reform.