The recently released Australian Cancer Atlas shows national patterns in cancer incidence and survival rates based on where people live for 20 of the most common cancers in Australia — such as lung, breast and bowel cancer. It lets us make sense of complex data more easily. In turn, this helps health agencies, policy makers and researchers digest the data to understand and see previously indistinguishable patterns. It will provide a better understanding of geographic disparities and health requirements. There are many flow-on effects from being able to visualise data on a map, including avenues for new research and providing evidence for future policy decisions.
The atlas combines spatial analysis tools, geostatistics and small area estimate modelling to create a powerful tool for the presentation and analysis of cancer patterns in Australia. Having a spatial comparison and analysis of cancer patterns helps inform decision-making at local, state and federal levels.
The team has developed a robust, accessible and easy to use tool that presents a spatial view of cancer indicators and provides a model for exploratory data analysis. The online atlas will enable unique insights into the location-based patterns of cancer outcomes across Australia and will build momentum in the research efforts to understand why variations exist, potentially leading to earlier interventions to reduce the observed inequalities.
This project was led and managed by FrontierSI, who brought together experts from Cancer Council Queensland and the other Council registries, Queensland University of Technology, health departments and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The launch of the atlas received significant media coverage. The project team is now exploring opportunities to implement the atlas in other contexts and jurisdictions.