SIGNIFICANTLY improving access to cancer diagnosis and treatment in rural areas will be needed to address a projected 40 per cent growth of cancer nationally, according to professor Rob Davidson, the head of medical radiation science at Charles Sturt University (CSU).
Professor Davidson’s comments follow CSU’s application to the federal Education Investment Fund (EIF) for $63.6 million to significantly expand the range of health science courses offered in Orange and Bathurst to address current and future health workforce shortages in rural areas.
If the application is successful, the university will deliver 17 new health courses in Orange and Bathurst, with a further four existing courses expanded to meet future workforce needs.
“Part of the funding will establish new courses in medical imaging and nuclear medicine in Orange, and commence a new program in radiation therapy,” Professor Davidson said. “This will address shortages of professionals to provide diagnostic and treatment services in rural and remote communities.
“According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the number of cases of cancer diagnosed in Australia will reach around 150,000 in 2020, an increase of almost 40 per cent from 2007.
“We know that cancer survival rates are worse for people who live in rural and regional areas.
“The National Rural Health Alliance has argued that people with cancer in remote areas of NSW are 35 per cent more likely to die within five years of diagnosis than patients in metropolitan areas. For prostate and cervical cancers, patients in remote NSW were up to three times more likely to die within five years of diagnosis.”
Western NSW Local Health District director of medical imaging Craig Shields welcomes any enhancement of health-related courses at Charles Sturt University.
“The Orange Health Service could support student placements with state-of-the-art radiography and medical imaging facilities now offered at the new hospital,” he said.
“We look forward to welcoming students to experience using our up-to-date medical imaging equipment.”
CSU expects the government to announce successful applications for the Education Investment Fund in the May budget.