Cancer sufferers in Griffith are dying prematurely because of poor access to radiation therapy, according to Radiation Therapy Advisory Group (RTAG).
"Your postcode should not dictate your survival outlook," Cancer Voices NSW's Lee Hunt says. And yet RTAG's Professor Peter O'Brien says people in Griffith just can't get timely access to the treatment they desperately need, considering the closest radiation therapy is in Wagga - making it a four hour round trip.
"Cancer patients should not have to travel two hours or more per day for radiation therapy", he said.
This is concerning, especially in the light of the fact regional cancer patients are 35 per cent more likely to die within five years of diagnosis than their city counterparts.
Griffith's Kylie O'Connor found out last August she had breast cancer, and talking to The Area News from Lilier Lodge in Wagga, is now in her fourth week of treatments.
"I was lucky enough to be able to do chemo in Griffith. My surgical procedures were in Griffith. But the radiation's in Wagga," Mrs O'Connor said.
She credits the staff at the Radiology clinic and at the Lodge, however says being way from home as her daughter begins High School was "incredibly challenging".
If, in the rebuild of the (base) hospital, they were able to provide those services it would make life easier for those going through the toughest time of their lives.Kylie O'Connor.
RTAG says those least likely to benefit from this potentially life-saving treatment are regional cancer patients living in places like Griffith and those surrounding town, given the treatment centres are simply too far away.
Mrs O'Connor said while not knowing anyone personally, has heard of "quite a few" people in the area not doing the radiation treatment due to the travel, either because arrangements were too hard or work commitments prevented the time off.
"The radiation goes for just 15 minutes in the morning, Monday to Friday." Having that service in Griffith would make a huge difference.
"If, in the rebuild of the (base) hospital, they were able to provide those services it would make life easier for those going through the toughest time of their lives."
RTAG has launched Radiation Therapy for Regional Australia, a campaign calling on both the Federal Government and Opposition to invest in radiation therapy services in regional Australia. It has identified 13 population centres - including Griffith - where there is a clear underuse of the life-saving treatment.
RTAG's campaign has hit a major milestone, with $45.5 million boost for radiation therapy in regional areas announced in the budget this week. The group say they are pleased its public advocacy campaign to improve access to vital radiation therapy in 12 high priority regional areas of Australia has received a strong hearing.
The Group is set to put pressure on candidates for the seat of Farrer to commit to funding radiation therapy in Griffith in advance of the Federal Election.
Current member Sussan Ley said the government is spending record amounts on health.
"But there is always pressure for more and I welcome all views on how and where this money is best spent," Ms Ley said.
Details of exactly how and where the Government's multi-million dollar package is to be allocated have yet to be determined.
The campaign has witnessed success in Albany, WA where both the State and Federal Government have promised investment in a new radiation therapy treatment centre.
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