Breast cancer management in Australian rural indigenous women: trends and challenges


  • Zackariah V. K. Clement Department of Breast and Endocrine Surgery, St George Hospital, Sydney, Australia



Australian indigenous women, Breast cancer


Cancer patients residing in Australian rural areas have a 7% higher mortality when compared to their counterparts in urban centres. Close to half of the indigenous Australians reside in regional and remote areas. Despite of the lower incidence rates among the indigenous women, and increase in overall breast screen participation indigenous women have lower participation rates when compared to non-indigenous women and the mortality from breast cancer is similar in both groups. Due to their relative the indigenous women with breast cancer living in the rural and regional Australia face several barriers and challenges. Although there is no perfect algorithm to address this problem, government should provide adequate specialist, allied health and support services to the patient’s rural and regional areas and this should not be any different to the services offered to their urban counterparts. A multidisciplinary approach should be taken to the management of breast cancer for all indigenous women in the rural areas. Outreach clinics and Tele-oncology can overcome some of the challenges of access. Health professionals should also be trained in culturally sensitive and effective communication strategies to improve interpersonal relationship, trust, compliance and overall patient outcomes.


Craft PS, Buckingham JM, Dahlstrom JE, Beckmann KR, Zhang Y, Stuart-Harris R, et al. Variation in the management of early breast cancer in rural and metropolitan centres: implications for the organisation of rural cancer services. Breast. 2010;19:396-401.

Baade PD, Youlden DR, Coory MD, Gardiner RA, Chambers SK. Urban–rural differences in prostate cancer outcomes in Australia: what has changed? Med J Aust. 2011;194:293-6.

Fox P, Boyce A. Cancer health inequality persists in regional and remote Australia. Med J Aust. 2014;201(8):445-6.

Coory MD, Ho T, Jordan SJ. Australia is continuing to make progress against cancer, but the regional and remote disadvantage remains. Med J Aust. 2013;199:605-8.

Roder D, Webster F, Zorbas H, Sinclair S. Breast screening and breast cancer in aboriginal and torres strait islander women of Australia. Asian Pacific J of Cancer Prev. 2012;2(1);147-55.

Crondon JR, Zhang X, Dempsey K, Garlin L, Guthridge S. Trends in cancer incidence and survival for indigenous and non-indigenous people in the Northern Territory. Med J Aust. 2016;205(10):454-8.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australasian Association of Cancer Registries. Cancer in Australia: an overview 2012. Canberra: AIHW, 2012. (AIHW Cat. No. CAN 70; Cancer Series No. 74.) Available at Accessed 30th Sep 2016.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfar, Cancer Australia 2013. Cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia: an overview. Cancer series 78. Cat. no. CAN 75. Canberra: AIHW. Available at Accessed 12th October 2016.

Cancer Australia. Breast cancer in Australia. Cancer Australia. Available at Accessed 4th November 2016.

Jong KE, Vale PJ, Armstrong BK. Rural inequalities in cancer care and outcome [editorial]. Med J Aust. 2005;182:13-4.

Stumpers S, Thomson N. Review of cancer among Indigenous peoples, 2012. Austalian indigenous health info net. Available at Accessed 30th October 2016.

Cancer in rural Australia. National rural health alliance Inc. Available at Accessed 4th November 2016.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Cancer survival and prevalence in Australia: period estimates from 1982 to 2010. Canberra: AIHW, 2012. (AIHW Cat. No. CAN 65; Cancer Series No. 69.) Accessed 30th October 2016.

Sateren WB, Trimble EL, Abrams J, Brawley O, Breen N, Ford L, et al. How sociodemographics, presence of oncology specialists, and hospital cancer programs affect accrual to cancer treatment trials. J Clin Oncol. 2002;20:2109-17.

Doolittle GC, Spaulding AO. Providing access to oncology care for rural patients via tele-medicine. J Oncol Pract. 2006;2:228.




How to Cite

Clement, Z. V. K. (2017). Breast cancer management in Australian rural indigenous women: trends and challenges. International Journal Of Community Medicine And Public Health, 4(2), 620–622.



Short Communication