9 Dec 2010

Study shows high cancer rate among Pacific women in NZ

4:05 pm on 9 December 2010

New research has found Pacific women in New Zealand are three times more likely than European women to have endometrial and thyroid cancer.

Two cancer studies have been published by Otago University, one looking at cancer trends by ethnicity and wealth, and the other measuring the burden of cancer by years of lost life.

Professor Tony Blakely says there are some gains for Pacific people with cervical cancer rates halving over the past 25 years because of more effective screening campaigns.

But he says obesity and smoking are still big contributors to high rates of cancer.

"From the cancer front, the elephant in the room is still tobacco smoking. Everything we can do to make New Zealand tobacco free and Oceania tobacco free, within the next fifteen years. This is no longer pie in the sky, there's some serious momentum at the moment within the Beehive, I'm standing right next to it at the moment. We could achieve that. And that would see about twenty-five to thirty-three per cent of cancers, gone."

Professor Blakely says people can help themselves by participating in programmes to screen for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer, and should see a doctor if they feel unwell.