Professor Tom Shakespeare with plans for the integrated cancer care unit at Lismore Base Hospital.
Professor Tom Shakespeare with plans for the integrated cancer care unit at Lismore Base Hospital.

Boomers boost cancer rate

INCIDENTS of cancer on the North Coast are set to rocket, due partly to the migration of baby boomers to the area.

A report released by the Cancer Institute this week showed a projected 56 per cent increase in cancer cases between 2007 and 2021 for the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS).

Professor Tom Shakespeare, NCAHS Director of Cancer Services, chalked up the alarming statistics to a population of older Australians retiring to the North Coast.

“A reduction in mortality rates and greater survival rates largely depend on early detection,” he said.

However the experienced radiation oncologist said North Coast’s residents needed to catch up to their city cousins when it came to seeking early detection.

“People in metropolitan areas tend to better health consumers. In my experience, they are more likely to present with symptoms earlier,” Prof Shakespeare said.

He said as well as melanoma, prostate cancer was the area’s biggest problem. “I endorse the testing of prostate cancer. I see five to 10 cases in my clinic each week and that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

According to Prof Shakespeare, lifestyle factors that hindered the health of North Coast residents included higher-than-average rates of alcohol abuse.

He said the area was well-equipped to address the cancer challenge with the $27 million Lismore facility of the North Coast Cancer Institute set to open before mid-2010.

“I just booked my first patient into the cancer clinic this week,” he said.



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