National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap Consultation Submission

27 November 2020

The National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance) welcomes the opportunity to provide a perspective on the impact and experience of pancreatic cancer in rural, regional and remote (hereafter rural) Australia to inform the development of the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap. The Alliance comprises 44 national member organisations and is focused on improving the health and wellbeing of the 7 million people residing outside our major cities. Our members include health consumers, health care professionals, service providers, health educators, students, and the Indigenous health sector. Well-rounded representation of the rural health sector enables us to work toward our vision of ‘healthy and sustainable rural, regional and remote communities’.

We acknowledge the challenges of providing best-practice pancreatic cancer care. Timeframes from presentation to investigation, diagnosis, referral and treatment are tight, and care needs are high – with a focus on multidisciplinary, coordinated care and palliative care for many patients.(1) This submission will highlight differences in epidemiology and outcomes of pancreatic cancer in people living in rural Australia, compared with major cities. It will also emphasise the inequities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who make up a larger proportion of the population with increasing remoteness.(2) We will discuss the reasons for these disparities, with a focus on access to services and health workforce issues. Other issues faced by pancreatic cancer patients who are unable to access services close to their home will also be explored. We conclude with recommendations to improve the experience of pancreatic cancer patients and their families in the future.