Planning for the Best

Tripartite National Strategic Plan for Radiation Oncology 2012-2022


Providing equitable access to healthcare services for Australians living in rural and regional communities is a national priority. When compared to metropolitan populations, rural and regional patients have a number of specific challenges because they:

  • Are more likely to present with late stage diagnosis;
  • Have lower survival rates;
  • Have greater difficulty accessing treatments of equal quality;
  • May face a greater financial burden from cancer diagnosis and treatment1.


Research indicates that people with cancer in regional areas are 35% more likely to die within 5 years of diagnosis than patients in the city2.  Death rate for patients with rectal cancer rises by 6% for every extra 100km a patient lives away from radiation therapy facilities3. There are numerous studies4-8 of health outcomes for cancer patients being compromised due to access to and/or distance from a treatment facility and access to the most clinically effective treatments.

Concerns highlighted in stakeholder submissions during the consultation process have been categorised into three main areas: patient access, facility workforce, and service planning, as illustrated in the figure below.

Rural and regional issues raised during the consultations