People living in areas far from the critical cancer treatment facilities have lower chance of surviving from rectal cancer, according to a research published in Medical
Journal of Australia.
Associate Professor Peter Baade, from the Cancer Council in Queensland, and co-authors conducted a descriptive
population-based study to determine whether an association exists between
distance from radiotherapy facilities and survival outcomes of people diagnosed
with rectal cancer in Queensland.
They found that, on average, there was a six per cent
increase in mortality risk for each 100 km increment in distance from the
nearest radiotherapy facility.
Assoc Prof Baade said that increasing distance from
radiotherapy facilities had a direct association with survival outcomes for
patients with rectal cancer, independent of their cancer stage.
"Although radiotherapy services are considered to be
integral to a multidisciplinary approach to treatment of patients with rectal
cancer, the increased distances rural patients need to travel to use these
services are recognised as a barrier to optimum treatment, particularly when
prolonged absence from home disrupts normal life and involves financial
hardship," Assoc Prof Baade said.
"Given that for complex treatments, such as radiotherapy,
some centralisation of treatment may be inevitable, it is imperative that
health services find ways to improve access when distance is a barrier.
"This includes realistic financial reimbursement for travel
and accommodation costs incurred, and adequate outreach services to increase
use of radiotherapy services when a facility is not located nearby."
The Medical Journal of
is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.