To strengthen best practice cancer care at the right time in the right place with the right expertise and capability in rural and regional Australia.
Cancer Australia led three initiatives to improve cancer outcomes for people living in rural and regional Australia. Profiling of Regional Cancer Services mapped the services, treatment and referral pathways at 34 Regional Cancer Services (RCS) across Australia for six common and seven complex/high risk cancers and assessed against clinical capability frameworks. Best Practice Cancer Care in Regional Australia initiative analysed data from 34 RCS against optimal care pathways (OCPs) and engaged jurisdictions to identify opportunities for best practice cancer care underpinned by principles of safe and quality care and patient-centred care. National Regional Cancer Services Forum initiative brought together RCS leaders, with jurisdiction, primary care, and consumer stakeholders to discuss common challenges and opportunities to enhance best practice cancer care.
Variability exists in service capability across RCS. 41% of RCS had high level capability for surgical and medical oncology. 56% of RCS had high level capability for radiation oncology and palliative care. 59% of RCS provided five of the eight services profiled for six common cancers. 71% of RCS referred patients to a higher level service for eight services profiled for seven complex/high-risk cancers. Opportunities exist at RCS to review diagnosis and referral timelines, surgical volume and service provision against capabilities and OCPs. Opportunities to enhance best practice cancer care include monitoring and benchmarking of clinical data aligned to optimal care pathways; and improvement in access and coordination between local and higher level services.
Cancer Australia is building on these initiatives to reduce variations in practice with a focus on optimising the delivery of lung cancer care in regional Australia and using data to enhance regional cancer care across Australia.