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.
AdvertisementThey 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 Australia is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.