Radiation Oncologists Action to Close the Care Gap this World Cancer Day
We are excited to launch a short video series to mark World Cancer Day 2022, one video each day for seven consecutive days, starting from 4 February. The video series features seven conversations between Julie McCrossin, Targeting Cancer Campaign Ambassador, and radiation oncologists as well as Indigenous and Maori health workers across Australia and New Zealand, at home and abroad to address the inequality in accessing radiation therapy for cancer care.
Our radiation oncologists have come forward to send an important message: wherever we live in the world, we deserve to be given the best possible chance to survive cancer and that means we need to be able to receive radiation therapy when it benefits us.
Dr Tuan Ha Addresses World Cancer Day 2022 Theme – Close the Care Gap
A cancer diagnosis is a distressing time for all patients and their loved ones, especially when there is additional stress of deciding how they will travel to and access their life-saving treatment. This is a particularly challenging issue for our regional and remote people. In 2000, data from Queensland reported adverse outcomes for patients with certain cancers who had to travel moderate distances to access their radiation therapy treatment. Since that time there has been a large investment and collaboration to improve access to our most vulnerable and disadvantaged people.
This has involved:
• Increasing the number of regionally located radiation therapy centres in Queensland – Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Mackay and Cairns.
• Significant investment in training healthcare professionals, to increase the availability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Liaison Officers, Cancer Care Coordinators and Specialist Breast and Prostate Cancer nurses who can help patients navigate and provide support during their cancer journey.
Access to life saving treatment closer to home remains a significant challenge. There needs to be continuing efforts to close the care gap and improve equality of access to radiation therapy to all people living with cancer, regardless of where they live. To learn more or to see how you can be involved in improving access to life saving treatment in rural and regional areas see what we’re doing on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube or visit our website.
Dr Tuan Ha is a radiation oncologist and Co-Chair of Targeting Cancer Management Committee.
Dr Lucinda Morris Talks about Targeting Cancer Campaign on World Cancer Day 2022
Our key campaign messages on World Cancer Day 2022 are that:
• Radiation therapy can cure cancer.
• Radiation therapy is a highly effective, safe, and cost-effective treatment.
• Radiation therapy is delivered by a highly skilled professional team using sophisticated technology.
• 1 in 2 cancer patients would benefit from Radiation therapy. Sadly, only 1 in 3 people actually receive radiation therapy. In some parts of the world, it is far less than this or none at all. This is the cause of much needless death and suffering worldwide. This problem exists not only here in Australia and New Zealand, but the entire world.
The award-winning campaign is an initiative of the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Radiologist, Faculty of Radiation Oncology. It was launched in 2013 when RANZCR identified that there was an area of need in terms of awareness and education around radiation therapy. The campaign is actively working both within Australia and New Zealand but has a global reach. To date the campaign has had an estimated audience reach of over 50 million people worldwide!
The campaign is working hard to close the gap by raising awareness of radiation therapy amongst the community, patients, and healthcare professionals. We also aim to demystify modern radiation therapy and ensure all patients know their treatment options (ideally by talking with a radiation oncologist directly). We know that education and knowledge is the key to improving care for people living with cancer and closing the global care gap in access to radiation therapy.
Our website is a fantastic educational resource for patients and health care professionals alike. It is rich with lots of information about radiation therapy and different cancer types, a “For GPs” education portal, and treatment centre map for patients. All the educational content is produced by clinicians in partnership with cancer patients to ensure it is high quality, accurate and up to date. The growth in popularity of our site has been incredible and we are now one of most visited and trusted radiation therapy related websites in Australia and New Zealand. We encourage anyone looking to learn more about radiation Therapy to visit out site.
We are also highly active on social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. We also work with traditional media to promote the key campaign messages across print media, radio, and TV. Across these platforms we have featured numerous national and international patient stories and updates about advances in radiation therapy to educate the general community about the vital role of radiation therapy in treating cancer.
The campaign is also working to educate heath care professionals about radiation therapy as many professionals do not receive education and training about the vital role of radiation therapy. This includes the Australian medical school curriculum research project, junior medical officer radiation therapy education sessions and Cancer Nurses Society of Australia collaboration. We have also launched the Targeting Cancer Bi-National GP Education Program. This is the first radiation therapy focussed education program designed for primary care providers to be conducted in the world. Outcomes of the program have been published nationally and internationally and we have shown that educating GPs about radiation therapy improves their ability to help patient access to this life saving treatment. Over 60 live education sessions for GPs have been held across Australia and New Zealand to date.
In 2022 Targeting Cancer plans to create more virtual and online educational content for people living with cancer and their loved ones, as well as GPs and healthcare professionals. In the meantime, we encourage anyone wanting to learn more about radiation therapy and keep up to date with advancements in the field to follow us on social media and explore the website!
Dr Lucinda Morris is a radiation oncologist and Co-Chair of Targeting Cancer Management Committee.