A study has revealed that improved access to radiotherapy services in the Central West has increased the number of Western NSW Local Health District (LHD) patients accessing treatment.
The study, entitled “The change to radiotherapy utilisation in a rural area after the establishment of a local service” compares radiotherapy treatment rates prior to the opening of Central West Cancer Services (CWCS) at Orange in 2010 with treatment rates once CWCS had reached full capacity in 2012.
Data was collected from 1240 patients who lived within the Health District with their age, gender, cancer type, treatment intent (curative/palliative) and residential town recorded. Coordinating Principal Investigator of the project Sally Butler said that the aim of the study was to investigate if the establishment of a ‘local’ radiotherapy service in a geographically sparse rural area, such as Western NSW LHD, has impacted on the number of patients accessing cancer treatment.
“In particular we wanted to investigate if the change has been widespread and if patients’ demographics, cancer and treatment intent changed significantly with the introduction of the new service,” she said.
“The study found that there has been a significant increase in radiotherapy treatments, with 14% more patients receiving radiotherapy annually. 573 patients had radiotherapy in 2010 and 667 in 2012 - an increase of 94,” Sally said
“Of the 94 new treatments, 77 lived within the Orange region showing that a service within 150km in a rural area will beneficially influence the number of patients treated”.
Other key findings were that patients diagnosed with a respiratory cancer had significantly more radiotherapy in 2012 than 2010 and that the number of males treated increased by 22%.
“In conclusion, the study found that a new radiotherapy service in a sparsely populated health district significantly changed the pattern of radiotherapy use by those who lived in the Orange region, particularly those living within 150km of the new service,” Sally said.
“This is great news for patients in our Health District and helps us improve the patient experience, which is a key priority of our Strategic Plan”.
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