This Pink Ribbon Day (October 22) Cancer Council Queensland has pledged to close the gap between inequalities of breast cancer survival and treatment of women across Australia.
Inequalities in survival for women with breast cancer continue to exist, particularly for women living in rural and remote areas and those from areas of disadvantage.
New research into better understanding the reasons for such disparities has been made possible with the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Early Career Fellowships, awarding Cancer Council Queensland’s Head of Programs and Research Dr Pip Youl an Early Career Fellowship for her work in breast cancer research.
The four-year research fellowship will allow Dr Youl to examine in detail how geographical location and socioeconomics impact breast cancer outcomes, in an effort to affect policy and increase survival rates.
“This fellowship will provide Cancer Council Queensland with an opportunity to identify and examine those factors that impact on inequalities in breast cancer outcomes,” Dr Youl said
“Currently we know that women living in rural and regional areas of Queensland have significantly poorer survival from breast cancer, however we have little understanding of the reasons for these inequalities.
“The project will also uncover more detailed information about the experiences of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.”
Breast cancer is currently the most common invasive cancer affecting Australian women with about 13,500 women diagnosed across the country each year (28% of all cancers), making it the second leading cause of cancer mortality (15% of all cancer deaths).
“We hope that the results of this research will help provide health care providers and policy makers with targeted information to improve the future management of women with breast cancer,” Dr Youl said.
The latest statistics show that women diagnosed with breast cancer in regional or remote areas of Queensland have a poorer survival outlook than women in South East Queensland.
“While there is some variation within areas, research shows that women diagnosed with breast cancer while living in outer regional areas of Queensland are about 33 per cent more likely to die from their cancer within five years than those in South East Queensland,” she said.
“The survival gap for women living in remote areas of the state is even greater, at nearly 66 per cent.”*
Dr Youl’s research will focus on identifying how, and to what extent, geographical location and socioeconomics impact on rates of recurrence and survival for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.
It is anticipated that about 3000 women will be involved in the study. Telephone interviews and self-administered surveys will be used to collect individual-level data from about 3300 Queensland women aged 20 to 79 years with a confirmed diagnosis of invasive breast cancer in 2011 and 2012.
Qualitative interviews will also be conducted with samples of women from areas of known poor survival and areas with higher survival. Area-level data will be sourced from census data.
For more breast cancer information or support visit www.cancerqld.org.au or phone the Cancer Council Hotline on 13 11 20.
NHMRC Early Career Fellowships provide opportunities for Australian researchers to undertake research that is both of major importance in its field and of benefit to the health of Australians.
*These statistics are comparisons of regional and remote survival rates with the average rates for South East Queensland, rather than the Queensland average rates which are published in the Atlas of Cancer in Queensland.
For more information, photo or interview opportunities, contact:
Cancer Council Queensland Media Advisor Jasmine Ward on (07) 3634 5280 or 0428 580 363.