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  • Gaps in supportive care services for Aboriginal cancer patients

    Author: AAP

Leading experts in cancer care have gathered in Adelaide to explore a range of issues aimed at better treating the thousands of sufferers of the disease.

Gaps in supportive care services for Aboriginal cancer patients means more of them are dying, an Australian expert claims.

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Aboriginal people are less likely to survive a cancer diagnosis, with 30 per cent of them more likely to die from cancer than non-Indigenous Australians.

This mortality gap is partly due to inconsistencies in the supportive care they receive, according to Dr Jasmine Micklem from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

She says most of the research to date has only focused on cancer risk factors or service delivery, rather than supportive care.


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Dr Micklem will raise the issue at the international Supportive Care in Cancer Conference in Adelaide and call for an evidence-based national framework to guide future directions in cancer control for indigenous Australians.

The priority areas are early diagnosis, culturally appropriate care and prevention, she says.

The conference - to be held over the next three days and involving 1000 leading experts from across the world - will explore a range of issues in the care of cancer patients, including the role of exercise and nutrition and the role the arts can play in helping sufferers as they near the end of their lives.

Sally Francis, from the Arts in Health at Flinders Medical Centre program, says the role of music and art provides a vital avenue of expression and can help cancer patients to process what is happening to them, as well as providing a much needed distraction.

"Because cancer is a really arresting diagnosis it puts you in a really vulnerable position and you've lost a lot of that decision making," she said in a statement on Thursday.

"Having an activity where you are creating an artwork actually gives you the ability to express your identity, so you actually have control over something you are creating."


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