This report presents data from the first year of the Radiotherapy Waiting Times National Minimum Data Set, which covers radiotherapy courses that started in 2015–16 and the waiting times for those courses. This follows two years of a pilot data collection.

Coverage of radiotherapy courses in Australia for 2015–16 across both public and private sectors was effectively 100%. Data were submitted from 44 public-sector sites and 33 private-sector sites.

Radiotherapy activity

Participating providers reported data for about 60,600 courses of radiotherapy that began in 2015–16. These data showed that:

  • public providers delivered two-thirds of radiotherapy courses, while private providers delivered one third
  • 70% of patients starting a course of radiotherapy treatment were aged 60 and over
  • breast, prostate, and lung cancers were the most common reasons for radiotherapy
  • more than half (58%) of the radiotherapy courses were intended to cure disease, 38% were palliative and 1% were to prevent disease
  • 2% of courses were clinically assessed as emergency treatment (that is, radiation treatment should begin within 24 hours), with most of these cases being palliative.

Waiting times

In 2015–16, 50% of patients received treatment within 9 days of being assessed as ready for care, and 90% received treatment within 27 days.

  • Waiting times were shortest for patients receiving palliative radiotherapy, and were longest for patients receiving curative radiotherapy.
  • Waiting times for non-emergency courses were the same as for all courses. For those patients who were clinically assessed as emergency patients (for whom a radiotherapy course is recommended to begin within 24 hours of being ready for care), 91% began treatment on the same day or the next day.
  • Of male patients with a principal diagnosis of prostate cancer, 50% started treatment within 10 days, and 90% within 29 days.
  • Of female patients with a principal diagnosis of breast cancer, 50% started treatment within 8 days, and 90% within 28 days.