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Cutting-edge cancer map for Australia

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A new interactive online tool reveals in a few clicks cancer patterns nationally and at the local level.

The recently launched Australian Cancer Atlas, allows Australians to discover the impact of cancer in their suburb or town.

It is an interactive, colour-coded, digital cancer atlas showing national patterns in cancer incidence and survival rates based on where people live.

It holds data for 20 of the most common cancers in Australia, such as lung, breast and bowel cancer, and the likely reflecting the characteristics, lifestyles and access to health services in each area.

The project, led by researchers from Cancer Council Queensland, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and FrontierSI, gives health agencies and policy makers a better understanding of geographic disparities and health requirements across the country.

Cancer Council Queensland Head of Research, Professor Joanne Aitken, said the digital atlas highlighted which geographical areas had cancer rates below or above the national average.

“Australians can filter down to look at the impact of various types of cancer in the region where they live, to understand cancer patterns across the country. However, it’s important to remember that local cancer trends won’t necessarily reflect your own cancer risk,” Prof Aitken said.

“Cancer rates vary across geographic regions depending on things like the age of local residents, participation in screening programs and trends in terms of cancer risk behaviours.

“One of the most revealing patterns in the atlas was the severe disparities in Australia with liver cancer, with incidence rates significantly higher than the national average in many areas in Northern Australia and many metropolitan areas of Sydney and Melbourne, due to differences in the distribution of known risk factors such as hepatitis, intravenous drugs use and excess alcohol consumption.

“In addition, other findings confirm that melanoma incidence rates are higher than the Australian average in many areas of Queensland and northern New South Wales.”

The online atlas is powered by myGlobe, a state-of-the-art digital system that has been developed and enhanced specifically for the atlas by the Visualisation and eResearch team at QUT.

Professor of Statistics at QUT, Kerrie Mengersen, said the atlas was designed to be user-friendly, with robust information and innovative visual presentations to help people interpret and understand the statistics.

“It can be added to and updated regularly so that all Australians can have access to the latest available information,” Prof Mengersen said.

“This project has been an exciting and rewarding one to work on, to build statistical models from the registry data gathered and to present this information in an easy-to-navigate, interactive tool.

“We believe the atlas will be an important resource, of benefit to all Australians, and hope it will drive policy and research so that we eliminate disparities across Australia in levels of cancer care, resourcing and survival.”

The Australian Cancer Atlas can be found at https://atlas.cancer.org.au and is ready to be used from the site.

 

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