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Radiotherapy uses radiation directed at a localised area to kill or damage cancer cells. It is a well-established, effective and safe way to treat cancer and a small number of other conditions. It can be used to treat conditions (curative intent), to prevent them (prophylactic), or to manage or lessen their symptoms (palliative).

Download the full report: Radiotherapy in Australia: report on the second year of a pilot collection, 2014–15.


Radiotherapy activity

Bar chart shows radiotheraphy in public services by state/territory, and for private services

56,376

courses of radiotherapy began in 2014–15.

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7 in 10

radiotherapy courses (71%) were delivered in the public sector and 3 in 10 were delivered in the private sector.


Radiotherapy patients: age and sex

Icons for 1:1 male: female

1:1

is the ratio between male and female radiotherapy patients

Icon for 1 in 4 males

1 in 4

males (26%) who received radiotherapy had a principal diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Icon for 1 in 2 females

1 in 2

females (46%) who received radiotherapy had a principal diagnosis of breast cancer.

Radiotherapy patient age/sex & courses

Sex and age

For people aged less than 60 years, more radiotherapy courses are delivered to females, but for those aged over 60, more courses are delivered to males.

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7 in 10

radiotherapy courses (69%) were for people aged 60 and over.


Radiotherapy treatment: intent and emergency status

Stacked bar chart shows 58% palliative, 38% palliative, and 2.8% prophylactic

58%

of radiotherapy courses were delivered with the intention of curing disease, 38% were palliative and 2.7% were preventative (prophylactic).

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4 in 5

emergency courses (which required treatment within 24 hours) were for palliative care (80%). Emergency courses made up 2.1% of all radiotherapy courses.

Radiotherapy patient age & treatment intention

Patient age and intention of treatment

Younger patients are more likely to be treated with curative intent than older patients, and the older a patient is, the more likely they are to be treated with palliative intent.

Radiotherapy: emergency status

Emergency status and intent of treatment

2.1% of radiotherapy courses were emergency cases, where the patient should receive treatment within 24 hours. The majority of emergency cases were for palliative care. The majority of non-emergency cases were aimed at curing disease.


Radiotherapy waiting times

The 2014–15 collection included data about waiting times for treatment. Waiting times are measured from when the patient is 'ready for care' to the beginning of the course of treatment.

More information about how waiting times are measured is available in Radiotherapy in Australia: report on the second year of a pilot collection, 2014–15.

Figure shows waiting times for radiotherapy

10 days

was the time within which 50% of patients started radiotherapy; 90% started within 28 days; 10% waited longer than this.

Figure shows waiting times for curative radiotherapy

14 days

was the time within which 50% of patients receiving radiotherapy with the intention to cure disease started radiotherapy; 90% started within 33 days; 10% waited longer than this.

Figure shows waiting times for palliative radiotherapy

6 days

was the time within which 50% of patients receiving radiotherapy with the intention of palliation started radiotherapy; 90% started within 19 days; 10% waited longer than this.

Icon for 9 in 10 people

9 in 10

patients (91%) who received emergency radiotherapy started treatment the same day or the next day.


Data notes

Data on this page are from the second year of a pilot data collection on radiotherapy treatment courses that started in 2014–15 and the waiting times for those treatments. All public radiotherapy providers in Australia reported data, along with a high proportion of private sites.

The data on this page are for megavoltage external beam radiotherapy delivered by linear accelerator machines.

AIHW radiotherapy publications