Published 23 Jun, 2020

Systemic anti-cancer treatment

Systemic anti-cancer treatments are pharmaceutical agents used to treat cancer. They include antineoplastic drugs (such as chemotherapy and targeted therapy), endocrine (hormonal) therapies and immunotherapies.

Systemic anti-cancer treatments are given with the intent of changing the outcome of the cancer and / or providing symptom relief / palliative care. They are often used before surgery to shrink the cancer (neo-adjuvant therapy) and / or after surgery (adjuvant therapy). They may also be combined with radiotherapy.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander access to and uptake of systemic anti-cancer treatment may be influenced by a range of factors. Referral to specialised centres and/or the use of technology may be considered to facilitate access to recommended treatment options.


Data availability

There are currently no national data available for this indicator.

The NCCI includes a measure on systemic anti-cancer treatment. This measure is drawn from Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) data. Data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not routinely reported for systemic anti-cancer therapies.


Further information

Cancer Australia. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Framework. Priority 5b: Ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive best practice care.

Cancer Australia. Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer. Step 4: Treatment; Step 6: Managing recurrent, residual or metastatic disease.

Cancer Australia. Chemotherapy.

Cancer Australia. Targeted therapy.

Cancer Australia. Immunotherapy.

Cancer Australia. Hormone therapy.