Radiotherapy access in the West Hume region: any need for a local radiation facility? (#225)
Radiotherapy is one of the main treatment modalities for cancer patients. The recently set-up Oncology Unit at the Goulburn Valley Health (GVH) serves a catchment population of 160,000. As there is no local radiotherapy facility, those patients seen who need radiation have to travel more than 100 kilometres. We aim to describe the radiotherapy needs in this area.
Methods: This is a retrospective chart review of patients seen at GVH Oncology Clinic from January 2012 till June 2013. All patients who are referred for radiotherapy as part of their treatment are included in the analysis. Patients under the care of visiting specialists are excluded.
Results: A total of 330 oncology patients, median age of 62 (range 37 - 90) were seen over the 18-month period. Almost one-third (n=104) were referred for radiotherapy. Majority (52%) have early-stage disease while the rest (48%) have metastatic disease at presentation. More than one-third (37%) have breast cancer, 17% colorectal cancer, 16% lung cancer, 8% prostate cancer and 22% other primaries. Neo-adjuvant radiotherapy was given in 21%, 49% as adjuvant and 30% for palliation. About half (56%) were referred to Bendigo, 30% to Melbourne and 14% to Albury/Wodonga. The median distance travelled is 123km, (range 123-193). On average, the duration of radiation was 19 days. Majority (94%) completed their prescribed treatment.
A significant number of oncology patients in the West Hume region have to travel long distances to access radiotherapy facilities as part of their cancer treatment. A more in-depth analysis would perhaps aid in the consideration of setting up a radiation facility in the near future in this region.