Disease mapping: Geographic differences in population rates of interventional treatment for prostate cancer in Australia

descriptive epidemiology


For men with prostate cancer, the way it is treated depends on where they live in Australia.

What is known?

People diagnosed with prostate cancer decide which treatment (or treatments) to undertake, with their doctors’ advice and guidance. These decisions are usually based on the stage of cancer, age, general health, access to treatment facilities and personal preferences about the risks and benefits of the treatments available. Often decisions are influenced by the experiences of friends or family.

In many developed countries, treatment decisions are also related to the socioeconomic resources of the local community and whether the individual lives in an urban, rural or remote area.

What is new?

We looked at the treatments for prostate cancer that require hospital admission: radical prostatectomy, low dose rate brachytherapy and high dose rate brachytherapy. We analysed rates of treatment for small geographical areas and found associations between remoteness and area-level socioeconomic disadvantage. For example, rates of all treatments increased with increasing area-level advantage.

We also found that geographical areas could be characterised as having higher rates of either radical prostatectomy, higher rates of low dose rate brachytherapy or poorer survival. Most areas considered remote or among the most socioeconomically disadvantaged were characterised as having poorer survival.

What does this mean?

Prostate cancer treatment rates are influenced by diagnosis rates. However, decisions about treatment are made by individuals with their doctors’ guidance. These results highlight the disparity in the results of these decisions based on geographical location. In Australia, we need to better understand the decision-making process and remove any barriers that are encountered, including financial barriers and accessibility.

Contact: Jessica Cameron

Reference: Cameron JK, Chandrasiri U, Millar J, Aitken JF, Cramb S, Dunn J, Frydenberg M, Rashid P, Mengersen K, Chambers SK, Baade PD, Smith DP (2023) Disease mapping: Geographic differences in population rates of interventional treatment for prostate cancer in Australia. PLoS ONE 18(11): e0293954. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0293954