19 Apr 2012

Disproportionate number of Maori dying of cancer

8:54 pm on 19 April 2012

A disproportionate number of Maori are still dying of cancer, despite a big drop in the overall cancer mortality rate.

An Otago University study has found a 26% drop in the overall number of people dying from cancer in each of the past two decades - but a Maori person has 29% less chance of surviving cancer than a non-Maori does.

A health researcher at the university, Tony Blakely, says Maori have higher rates of conditions like lung disease and diabetes, so that if they get cancer, it's more likely to be fatal.

Professor Blakely says Maori also tend to have more difficulty navigating the health system to get treatment, but there has been a big effort in the past 10 years to try and improve the timeliness of treatment such as chemotherapy.