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Cancer survival 30 per cent worse in remote areas of NSW

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Published
5 April 2002
People living in remote NSW face a 30 per cent worse chance of surviving cancer due to poor access to cancer treatment and support services, according to a new report by Southern Cross University (SCU) and The Cancer Council NSW.

The report, ?Remoteness and cancer incidence, mortality and survival in NSW: 1992 to 1996?, will be launched on Tuesday, April 9, at Invercauld House, SCU?s Lismore campus, at 10.30am.

?The report shows there?s an urgent need for changes to services in rural and remote NSW to help improve survival from cancer,? The Cancer Council?s Regional Programs Co-ordinator in Ballina, Sharee Pine, said.

?The reliability of, and accessibility to, cancer services in these areas need to be reviewed as well as the effectiveness of referral networks,? Ms Pine said.

At the launch, the report?s chief author, Kathy Jong, a Research Fellow at Southern Cross University, will detail the research findings. Professor Bruce Armstrong, an internationally-renowned cancer researcher from the University of Sydney and co-author of the report, will discuss the implications in terms of cancer prevention and treatment.

The report found that survival for bowel, cervical and prostate cancer was particularly bad in remote areas. Women were 2.4 times less likely to survive cervical cancer compared to women living in urban areas.

People in remote areas also had a higher incidence of cancers related to smoking and drinking alcohol. ?Public health programs targeting smoking and alcohol use need to be given high priority in these areas,? Ms Jong said.

The incidence of melanoma was lowest in remote areas, but highest in areas with relatively good access to health services, the report found. Many of these areas (of high incidence) were situated along the mid-north coast and the far north coast of NSW, she said.

Ms Jong said this showed that protecting yourself from the sun remained an important public health message, however the pattern of sun exposure was also important. Professor Armstrong, an expert on melanoma research, said people who spent most of their time indoors were more at risk of melanoma than those who spent a lot of time in the sun.

Media enquiries: Kathy Jong, Southern Cross University, ph: 0413 585 724 (m), or 6685 3328 (h), Email: [email protected]; or

Sara Crowe, Media Unit, SCU, ph: 6620 3144; or Sharee Pine, Regional Programs Co-ordinator, The Cancer Council NSW, Ballina, Ph: 6681 1933.