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Landmark Australian Cancer Plan hailed as ‘a new era’


Alisha Dorrigan


7/11/2023 2:14:47 PM

GPs are expected to play a major role in a new 10-year blueprint Cancer Australia says will transform care across the country.

Man receiving immunoglobulin infusion.
More than 164,000 Australians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2023 alone

Cancer Australia, the Commonwealth Government’s lead cancer control agency, has launched an ambitious 10-year plan for improving cancer care.
 
The framework puts equity at the forefront of cancer care, with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and has been hailed as a ‘new era in cancer care for all’.
 
The Australian Cancer Plan was announced by Cancer Australia CEO Professor Dorothy Keefe at the 50th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia that took place in Melbourne over the weekend.
 
More than 164,000 Australians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year alone and while many will have positive treatment outcomes, significant disparities exist between certain groups.
 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 14% more likely to receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime and 45% more likely to die from the disease compared to non-Indigenous people.
 
‘It is our aim that the Australian Cancer Plan resonates with every person affected by cancer and everyone engaged in the cancer sector in Australia,’ Professor Keefe said.
 
‘Achieving equity in cancer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is the most significant ambition for the future of cancer care. This intention is at the heart of Australian Cancer Plan.’
 
The plan has set out six strategic objectives to be achieved over the coming decade:

  • Maximise cancer prevention and early detection
  • Achieve equity in cancer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
  • Enhance the consumer experience
  • Provide world class health systems for optimal care that are integrated and data-driven
  • Strong and dynamic foundations through the provision of fit-for-purpose infrastructure
  • Workforce to transform the delivery of cancer care 
All of the goals incorporate measures to provide culturally safe and responsive healthcare and include specific two-,five- and 10-year targets, which were set following extensive community consultation that included hundreds of submissions from individuals and cancer groups.
 
Many of the targets involve primary care input and collaboration, with the goals described as a ‘shared responsibility’ that require a joint effort from the whole the cancer control sector.  
 
Speaking with newsGP, Professor Keefe said GPs will play a vital role in achieving these objectives.
 
‘GPs cover the entire spectrum of cancer care, from prevention to palliation, and take on pivotal roles in addressing patient concerns and symptoms, risk assessment, and offering psychosocial support for early diagnosis, referrals, follow-up, recurrence detection, and survivorship,’ she said.
 
‘Furthermore, GPs are increasingly involved in cancer policy and research, highlighting their importance in the overall plan and we look forward to ongoing collaborations.’
 
Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler says the plan aims to ensure ‘no one falls through the gaps’.
 
‘While cancer outcomes in this country are generally among the best in the world, that’s not true for some people, simply because of who they are or where they live,’ he said.
 
‘Preventing cancer, and detecting and treating it earlier, will save heartache and pain for countless individuals and families, and also take pressure off our hospitals and wider health system.’
 
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