Alliance 'applauds' Budget but says more action needed on cancer treatment

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The Radiation Therapy Advisory Group (RTAG) has welcomed several measures in the 2023-24 Budget it says will benefit cancer patients by enhancing the accessibility and affordability of healthcare.

The alliance of cancer patient advocates, health care providers, medical technology vendors and oncology professionals said policymakers must remember that cancer is one of Australia's leading causes of death.

"We applaud the Government's efforts to provide flexible funding for multi-disciplinary team-based models," it said, adding that 20 per cent of Australian cancer patients who should receive radiation therapy, in line with best practice care, do not currently receive it.

"Multi-disciplinary tumour boards are one way to help ensure cancer patients have access to the best possible treatment," it said.

"Providing $ 263.8 million for lung cancer screening is a positive step in addressing one of Australia’s most prevalent cancers. As we improve the ability to diagnose lung cancer earlier, it is equally important to ensure patients receive personalised and effective treatment.

"Presently, almost half of lung cancer patients who require radiation therapy do not receive it. Long-term Medicare reform should increase the utilisation of radiotherapy and promote the use of digital technologies, such as AI, in treatment planning and delivery."

The alliance said it is estimated that there will be over 233,000 new cancer cases each year by 2040, requiring a greater number of clinicians and awareness of how to manage the disease.

"While the Government's $2.2 billion package aims to address immediate challenges in primary care, we believe that investing in education for GPs and nurses about best practice cancer care will be an important factor in improving the coordination between healthcare providers across the care continuum, particularly in rural, remote and indigenous communities."