Cancer care

Information a ‘hidden barrier’ to cancer care in Australia

Timely access to useful information is the most common barrier to cancer care in Australia and often makes it difficult to make informed decisions about treatment, a patient survey suggests.

The poll, commissioned by private oncology provider Icon Cancer Centre, also reveals over half (54%) of Australian cancer patients experience barriers to getting the care they need.

Some 592 adult cancer patients answered the online survey, which was run over four weeks last summer by YouGov.

A majority noted the complexities of navigating cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment and beyond, as well as issues around the cost of care.

And living life around cancer care was the factor most frequently cited as the hardest part of the cancer experience, selected by 56% of colorectal cancer patients and 58% of those with breast cancer.

Half of breast cancer patients said the direct cost of treatment as a major challenge, while 29% said it was pre-diagnosis.

But the poll also identified a “hidden barrier” around information and deciding on the right course of treatment, the researcher said.

They noted close to three in 10 didn’t feel well informed and involved throughout their cancer care experience, with 22% saying they relied on their doctors and healthcare professionals to make decisions about their cancer care.

The issue was particularly acute among regional and rural patients, 26% of whom said they were informed when making decisions about their care areas such as cost, knowledge around treatment options, education and support compared to 17% in metro areas.

Some 60% of patients surveyed said greater support in understanding the various treatment pathways is needed to improve their cancer experience, and 52% said they wanted more help finding specialists with the right expertise.

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