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Med J Aust. 2005 Feb 7;182(3):112-5.

Urban-rural differences in prostate cancer mortality, radical prostatectomy and prostate-specific antigen testing in Australia.

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  • 1Health Information Centre, Queensland Health, Brisbane, QLD.



To assess differences in trends for prostate cancer mortality, radical prostatectomy and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing for Australian men aged 50-79 years living in capital cities compared with regional and rural areas.


Descriptive, population-based study based on data from official sources from 1985 to the 2002/03 financial year (depending on data availability).


Age-standardised rates per 100,000 men aged 50-79 years of mortality from prostate cancer, incidence of prostate cancer, PSA tests and radical prostatectomy.


We found a statistically significant and increasing (age-standardised) mortality excess for prostate cancer in regional and rural areas. In 2000-2002 the excess (compared with capital cities) was 21% (95% CI, 14%-29%). Rates of radical prostatectomy in rural and regional Australia were 29% lower (95% CI, 23% lower to 35% lower) than in capital cities. Although PSA testing is common across the whole of Australia, age-standardised rates in 2002/03 were 16% lower (95% CI, 15% lower to 17% lower) in regional and rural areas than in capital cities.


Our results show that the probability of a man having a PSA test and the management of his prostate cancer depend on where he lives. The cause or causes of the prostate cancer mortality excess in regional/rural areas cannot be established in a descriptive study, but fewer radical prostatectomies in regional and rural areas, perhaps associated with less PSA screening, remain among the several competing hypotheses. Other possibilities are related to other differences in management, perhaps associated with access to urologists. Governments and other budget holders need good evidence about the effectiveness of prostate cancer screening and early treatment, but also about the best strategies for providing equitable access to cancer services in both urban and rural areas.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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