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Do teleoncology models of care enable safe delivery of chemotherapy in rural towns?

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Even in developed nations, cancer survival rates among patients from rural regions are often inferior to those of their urban counterparts.13 In Australia, these problems are further compounded by the poorer outcomes for Indigenous patients compared with non-Indigenous patients.4 Reasons that have been proposed to explain this disparity include the differential access of rural and urban patients to various cancer screening and treatment programs.5 Achieving timely and equitable access to cancer care services for all patients remains a significant challenge, especially in large countries with geographically dispersed populations, such as Australia.

When compared with their urban counterparts, rural patients in New South Wales have different rates of prostatectomy and orchiectomy for prostate cancer,6 undergo less breast-conserving surgery for breast cancer,7 and have a lower probability of completing radiotherapy for rectal cancer.8 Overseas studies have also reported that the uptake of chemotherapy may be lower for patients from rural areas; for example, patients with colorectal cancer living in disadvantaged areas of Scotland were less likely to receive chemotherapy.9