World Cancer Day - Closing the care gap in regional Victoria

Published Catarina de Freitas on Tue, 02/06/2024 - 12:42

Monday Lunch Live

5 February 2024

Cancer isn't fair. Where you live, your ethnicity, your socio-economic status and even your gender and sexual identity can affect your chances of developing cancer, and your chances of survival.

The theme for World Cancer Day 2024 is 'Closing the Care Gap' so this year we are shining a spotlight on regional Victoria.

Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Regional Victorians are 10% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than those living in major cities - and the difference is even greater in melanoma, head and neck cancer and lung cancer.
  • Regional Victorians are 16% more likely to die from cancer than those who reside in major cities.
  • Five-year survival is higher in cities (72%) compared to regional (69%)

    (Source: Cancer in Victoria 2022, Victorian Cancer Registry)

There are many reasons for these differences, including the types of cancers, the stage of detection and risk factors, compounded by access to medical practitioners and diagnostic services.

This webinar highlights successful initiatives across the state that aim to bridge this care gap, featuring insights from innovators and consumers who are significantly improving cancer care and outcomes in regional areas.

Hear from some of the innovators - including consumers - who are driving positive change in cancer care and outcomes in regional Victoria.



Ms Narelle McPhee
Cancer Research Manager, Bendigo Cancer Centre


Ms Tanya Smith
Regional consumer partner

Tanya Smith is a triple negative breast cancer survivor from Bendigo. She was diagnosed at 41. After recovering from surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy she wanted to turn her experience into something positive and put her newfound knowledge to use. She decided to get involved in regional cancer care, by joining the Loddon Mallee Integrated Cancer Service governance group as a consumer representative. Since then, she has enjoyed being involved in regional and statewide cancer initiatives. She feels fortunate to be able to use her voice to advocate for positive change for cancer patients and their families.

A/Prof Richard Khor
Radiation Oncologist, Austin Health

A/Prof Richard is a Consultant Radiation Oncologist at Austin Health in Melbourne. His doctorate thesis focused on large scale database linkages, health services and machine learning in Radiation Oncology. Having grown up in regional Queensland and previously working in regional Victoria, he has always had an interest in the specific issues that patients face when living outside metropolitan cities. He has published several papers regarding radiotherapy how frequently radiotherapy is used for cancer patients, and also the effect of travel distance on service utilisation. Currently, Richard is lead clinician on the VCCC Value-based Healthcare Program project "Disparities in radiotherapy access in Victoria".

Dr Ben Thomas
Urological Surgeon, Peninsula Health, and Melbourne Health

Ben is a consultant urological surgeon with appointments at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Epworth Hospitals, St Vincent's Private Hospitals, Melbourne Private Hospital and Peninsula Health and is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne. He specializes in urological oncology surgery including robotic surgery. He is actively involved in research studies including being a chief investigator and principal investigator in bladder and prostate cancer studies and was a member of the National Cancer Research Institute Testicular Cancer Clinical Studies Group. He is actively involved in teaching and has been a supervisor at Clare College and Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge and a tutor in the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh Master of Surgery program. He has also held the position of Visiting Professor internationally.

Ms Nicole Webb
Cancer Care Coordinator, Albury Wodonga Health

Nicole is a Clinical Nurse Specialist currently serving as a Cancer Care Coordinator at Albury Wodonga Health. In addition to her clinical role, she holds a position as a research fellow at LaTrobe University, specialising in research around supportive care for older adults with cancer. Graduating with a Bachelor of Nursing from LaTrobe University in 1993, Nicole has worked in aged care, rehabilitation, and oncology in Australia and New Zealand. She completed a Master of Cancer Sciences from the University of Melbourne in 2021 and alongside her nursing qualifications, holds a Diploma in Education Studies and a certificate IV in Leadership and Management. Nicole is a member of the Cancer Nurses Society of Australia's Older Persons with Cancer Community of Practice and in her spare time loves to escape to the bush for an overnight hike.

Dr Stacey Rich
Regional consumer partner

Dr Stacey Rich is a Research Fellow at the John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research. Her area of research is supportive care of older adults undergoing treatment for cancer. In a classic case of life imitating art, Stacey became a carer for her mother after emergency surgery revealed her mother had advanced pancreatic cancer. Stacey experienced first-hand the impact of enhanced supportive care on her mum’s cancer journey and shares her experience with others.

Course Details

Close the care gap logo
Course type
60 mins
Curriculum Area
Consumer Involvement, Equity, and Inclusion
Treatment (incl. Supportive Care)
Clinical Care
Consumer / patient / carer
Clinical trials
Allied Health professional
Monday Lunch Live

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