A new Federal Government report shows that CANCER death rates for men from the rural areas are 10 per cent higher than for city men.
Despite The fact that cancer survival rates are improving overall, the new data shows glaring differences between the recovery and death rate of men living in rural areas and their urban counterpart.
The number of people diagnosed with cancer in Australia has risen from 78,857 new cases in 1996 to 88,962 in 2001 and an estimated 106,000 last year, according to the report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australasian Association of Cancer Registries.
The data found that factors such as increased sun exposure, higher smoking rates and delaying visits to a doctor put rural people at greater risk.
"Men had significantly higher rates of cancers diagnosed in advanced stages," Dr Mark Short, of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, said.
Dr Mark Short, from the institute's cancer monitoring unit said rates of melanoma and lung, head, neck and lip cancers were significantly higher in rural and remote areas than in metropolitan regions between 2001 and 2003.
"(This) underscores the importance of getting regular health checks from their doctors to increase the likelihood of early detection of cancer."
In 2003, prostate cancer overtook colorectal cancer as the most common cancer among Australians, followed by breast cancer, melanoma and lung cancer.
Between 1993 and 2003, the cancers which increased the most in number were thyroid cancer (106 per cent), myeloma (44 per cent), melanoma (41 per cent), kidney cancer (39 per cent) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (36 per cent).
The incidence of smoking-related cancers has fallen in recent years, but cigarette smoking is still a major cause of cancer in Australia. Smoking is estimated to have directly caused 10,800 new cases of cancer.
Although the survival rate had improved for all Australians in the 10 years to 2004, the report found that the chances of survival for a city dweller were improving more quickly than for someone from the rural area.
Cancer Council Australia chief executive Ian Olver said governments needed a dual approach to bridging the gap in services available in cities and rural areas." Many Australians in remote communities cannot afford to travel to major population centers for treatment," Professor Olver said.
"Secondly, we need a series of regional cancer centers that could be based around where there are already radiotherapy services. We've got to push the expertise out into the country."
What we suggest is that men need to be more aware of cancer and talk to their doctor about whether they should have a PSA test (for prostate cancer) or not," Professor Olver said.