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New research by Cancer Council Queensland has found more than 1,200 deaths in regional Queensland could have been prevented in the ten years to 2007 if regional cancer survival rates had been equal to the Queensland average.
The shocking disparity in cancer survival is mapped in the first Atlas of Cancer in Queensland, launched by Cancer Council Queensland to mark the charity’s 50th Anniversary.
Cancer Council Queensland CEO, Professor Jeff Dunn, said the Atlas provided the first important clue to solving the puzzle of cancer survival in Queensland.
“This Atlas is more than just a book of maps.
“It marks a starting point for seriously addressing cancer survival through government and community action.”
Prof Dunn said despite improvements in health during the past century, certain population groups still experience much worse outcomes than others.
“The Atlas shows that cancer patients living in more rural or disadvantaged areas have consistently lower survival rates compared to the Queensland average.
“If survival outcomes in these areas matched the Queensland average, there would have been 1,200 fewer cancer-related deaths within five years of diagnosis in the ten years to 2007.
“Tragically, it’s possible that an analysis of all deaths, not just those within five years of diagnosis, may find that many more patients have died of cancer because they live outside South-East Queensland.
“These are lives that could have been saved if regional cancer survival rates were equal to the Queensland average – our mums and dads, our husbands and wives, our friends and colleagues.''
This includes almost 800 males and more than 400 females, or nine per cent of cancer deaths within five years of diagnosis among regional and remote Queenslanders.
While the figures are stark, Prof Dunn said the Atlas maps the way forward in the fight against cancer, providing new hope that survival rates can be improved.
“It gives us a mandate for pursuing our mission with continued vigour, keeping up the pace of our vital research in this field.
“As a community, we must address the range of factors that contribute to the disparity in survival, including access to screening and diagnostic services, late diagnosis, and also access to effective treatment and care.
“We know that worldwide, one-third of all cancers could potentially be prevented by avoiding tobacco, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, being SunSmart, and observing other healthy lifestyle measures.
“An additional 30 per cent of cancers can be cured if we detect them early and treat them effectively.
“Individual action, encouraged by community and government support, is critical.
“We need to provide increased allocation of funding, resources, and attention to regional survival.
“The Atlas has provided us with the maps, and now navigating towards cancer survival is up to us,” he said.
To view the Atlas online, go to www.cancerqld.org.au/cancer_atlas.
To view the official launch of the Atlas, click here.
NOTE FOR EDITORS: Interview opportunities
Cancer Council Queensland’s CEO, Professor Jeff Dunn, and Director of Research, Professor Joanne Aitken, are available for interviews and photography.
Regional case studies are also available for media.
Journalists from commercial radio can contact Lyndal Bass on 0409 001 171 to arrange interviews.
Local contacts for interviews and case studies:
Cairns – Peter Rinaudo, 4047 5504 or 0458 301 037
Townsville – Marina Paine 4796 8409 or 0428 455 189
Mackay – Ashley Owens 4842 2003 or 0448 000 176
Rockhampton – Victoria Bradshaw 4932 8605 or 0448 000 176
Bundaberg – Bonnie Dale 4150 4502 or 0459 075 880
Sunshine Coast – Jennifer Marles-Malone 3634 5252 or 0413 598 694
Toowoomba – Alex Woodland 4690 5802 or 0457 851 997
Gold Coast – Jennifer Marles-Malone 3634 5252 or 0413 598 694
For all other enquiries, please contact:
Anne Savage, Director of Public Affairs, Cancer Council Queensland
Ph 3634 5241 or 0417 709 869