New report shows the hidden burdens of cancer care in Australia

Icon Writers / 29 Nov, 2022

A new report launched by Australia’s largest dedicated cancer care provider, Icon Group, reveals that over half (54%) of Australian cancer patients experience barriers to getting the care they need.

The majority surveyed noted the complexities of navigating cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment and beyond, as well as the difficulties of managing life around their care.

However, the report uncovered a hidden burden. Australian patients admit the most common barrier to care is around getting the right information at the right time to make informed decisions about their care:

  • 1 in 4 said deciding on the right treatment pathway (28%) and finding the right healthcare professionals (20%) was one of the hardest parts of their experience
  • 1 in 5 said the lack of integration and communication of information between different healthcare teams and providers (20%)
  • Nearly 1 in 5 said lack of reliable and timely information (18%)

The patients surveyed said greater support in understanding the various treatment pathways (60%) and finding specialists with the right expertise (52%) is needed to improve their cancer experience.

“We asked patients what they needed, and they answered: a system that talks to each other and provides a connected service that involves them, the patient, every step of the way,” says Mark Middleton OAM, Global CEO of Icon Group.

In response to these findings, Icon Group brought together leading advocacy groups – including Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, Cancer Council, Leukemia Foundation, Lung Foundation Australia, Ovarian Cancer Australia and Breast Cancer Network Australia.

Anne Savage, CEO of Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia, says, “A cancer diagnosis is devastating for anyone, impacting their lives well beyond the clinical disease. When information is not readily available or easily digestible, it makes difficult decisions about services they need even harder. For many men with prostate cancer, we know this can lead to suboptimal care or even opting out of care entirely. The only way to overcome this barrier is to work in partnership by supporting the man while treating his disease.”

Lance Kawaguchi, CEO of Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, says, “We can offer the best cancer care in the world, but if people don’t know it is available to them or feel lost in the system, they can’t benefit from it. As an organisation, we have an absolute commitment to create real change for people with cancer and believe collaboration across silos and geographies will achieve that.”

In collaboration with the advocacy groups, Icon Group has committed to three short-term and actionable solutions:

  • Foster local and regional forums that bring together all cancer care stakeholders to instigate open discussion and collaboration that leads to proactivity in closing gaps in care.
  • Develop clear pathways that facilitate getting quality patient information and support to the patient at the right time.
  • Quantify the value of new models of sustainable supportive care with investment into collaborative investigator-initiated research and pilot programs

“The patient’s wellbeing has always been the central focus of each of our individual organisations. By coming together, we can focus our collective power to remove systemic barriers and innovate the cancer experience on a scale not seen before. Together we can evolve the Australian cancer care landscape and improve outcomes for patients now and into the future,” says Mark Middleton.

Read more about the key findings in this digital report.

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