Māori twice as likely to die from cancer than non-Māori, new report finds

Source: 1News

There are calls for continued consultation with Māori leaders to improve health outcomes for Māori, who are disproportionately affected by cancer.

Te Aho o Te Kahu, the Cancer Control Agency, has this morning released its first comprehensive report of the country's cancer system.

Every year about 25,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with cancer, nearly 3000 of which are Māori, who are twice as likely to die with the disease.

"Māori have very high rates of certain cancers that are both very preventable, but also have very poor outcomes once someone's diagnosed," Te Aho Te Kahu chief executive Diana Sarfati told Breakfast this morning.

"Cancers like lung cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer - these are cancers that are preventable, have poor prognosis and disproportionately impact Māori so we want to address those things," she said.

Māori are just a little bit less well-served at each step of the healthcare pathway so we need to be looking quite broadly.

—  Diana Sarfati

"In terms of once someone is diagnosed what we know is that Māori tend to have worse survival regardless of the cancer that's been diagnosed and what tends to happen is Māori are just a little bit less well-served at each step of the healthcare pathway so we need to be looking quite broadly."

Sarfati said the agency would hold a series of hui around the country, with between 2000 and 4000 people expected to attend, focussed on how to make the cancer and diagnosis system work better for Māori, including transport and accommodation for treatment.

Meanwhile, the report also highlights the importance of cancer prevention and screening to help cancer outcomes in New Zealand.

"There needs to be continued work in addressing inequities, strengthening prevention, expanding screening and improving diagnosis and treatment for cancer," Sarfati said.

"We need to have a really clear focus on cancer, and of course that's the role of the agency, and I think the critical thing here is to be thinking right across everything that we do.

"So, for example, if we're thinking about more investment in improving cancer outcomes for New Zealand we have to think about prevention, we have to think about early diagnosis, screening, new technologies in terms of treatment, surgical, radiation oncology and cancer medicines. We need to think about how many doctors and nurses we have working in cancer and what the ethnic make up of those groups are.

"There's lots of areas that we have to be working on simultaneously to move things forward."

However, Sarfati said she believes the Government is committed to improving outcomes for cancer, noting that it was why the agency was set up.

"I'm optimistic that we are currently in the best position that we have ever been to be able to start moving the needle and to improve things for New Zealanders," she said.