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Shining a light: radiotherapy cancer treatment in Australia

Health equity Health services accessibility Health Medicine Cancer Patients Australia

Radiotherapy (RT) is an effective treatment for many cancers. However, up to 20 per cent of cancer patients who should receive radiotherapy do not. Alarmingly, up to 62 per cent of prostate cancer patients and 48 per cent of lung cancer patients do not receive radiotherapy - which is considered best practice. This has resulted in avoidable morbidity and mortality.

Contemporary radiotherapy is cost-effective for healthcare providers and convenient and safe for patients. So why are we not meeting utilisation targets?

This white paper highlights the most significant obstacles to accessing radiotherapy cancer care in Australia including access, awareness, and financial burden; and provides three evidence-based recommendations to improve utilisation of radiotherapy and health outcomes for Australians living with cancer.

The following three recommendations have been designed to be simple to implement within the existing policy frameworks of the Australian healthcare system.

  1. Establish geographic nodes to ensure equitable access to best practice RT treatment for all Australians.
  2. Ensure all patients and clinicians are aware of the benefits and impact of modern RT treatment through targeted campaigns.
  3. Support a national directory of travel and accomodation for those needing to travel for cancer treatment.
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