GET CHECKED: Cancer survivor Lynn Lane encouraged all those to keep up their regular cancer checks.
GET CHECKED: Cancer survivor Lynn Lane encouraged all those to keep up their regular cancer checks. Molly Glassey

Reluctance for cancer checks proving fatal for residents

WARWICK residents are putting off visiting the doctor because it is too difficult and it is costing us our lives, according to a new study.

Early detection is the key to cancer survival, and the joint Cancer Council Queensland and Queensland University of Technology study found people in the bush are generally diagnosed later than our inner-city neighbours.

QUT chief researcher Professor Kerrie Mengersen said the results of the study contained "good and bad news".

"The good news is survival rates overall are up, that's for both the city and the country," Prof Mengersen said.

"The bad news is there are still disparities between country and city areas, and that's a large disparity that has consisted over time."

She fine-lined the issue to the stages at which cancer was diagnosed, with those in the city more likely to learn of their illnesses earlier on.

"People in the bush have to travel for treatment and checks, and can sometimes be reluctant to do so," she said. "But that difference of being diagnosed earlier rather than later can make all the difference."

The results of the study were not a shock to Warwick breast cancer survivor Lynn Lane.

"That word 'cancer' has so much fear attached to it, that maybe people don't want to think about it at all," she said.

"There can be so many things happening in your life and you put that scheduled check to the back of your mind.

"And then you have to toddle to Toowoomba or wait for the truck to come to town before you can have the check."

Cancer Council Queensland spokeswoman Katie Clift said distance and access were two key issues.

"We know there are a number of factors that may influence geographical disparity, including difficulties access screening and diagnostic services, effective treatment and care," she said.

"It's vital that all Queenslanders, living rurally and in the city, participate in recommended screenings for all cancers to help detect the disease early."

Mrs Lane said all those hesistant about getting checked should rest assured in the advanced technology used in detection.

"Don't be scared to be guided by the wonderful surgeons, specialists and helpers we have on offer here in Warwick and Toowoomba," she said.

"We can think, 'This isn't going to happen to me', but the longer we think that, the more dangerous it becomes."

Ms Clift went on to say that for residents Warwick the first step in organising cancer testing was an easy one.

"Queenslanders should speak to their GP to discuss their cancer risk and seek information about where they can access relevant screenings," she said.

"We know that early detection saves lives and plays a key role in improving survival outcomes."

Mrs Lane offered some words of advice to those about to have their first cancer screening.

"When you go for a check, no matter how you feel, take someone with you," she said.

"And if you have to face this roller-coaster, treat yourself a bit. April this year marked five years since I diagnosed with breast cancer, so I went to Europe with my friend."

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