19 Jan 2018

Young Kiwis with cancer have lower survival rates - study

6:12 am on 19 January 2018

Young people with cancer in New Zealand have lower survival rates compared to North America, Germany and Australia, a new study shows.

Research on 25 to 29-year-olds published in the New Zealand Medical Journal shows that cancer survival rates have not improved as much for that group over the past two decades compared with children and older people.

The study looked at all the 1500 young people diagnosed with cancer between 2000 and 2009 taken from the New Zealand cancer registry.

Study researcher Kirsten Ballantine said the survival statistics for many cancers were good, and in line with international figures.

However, some were lagging behind, she said.

When combined with previous New Zealand studies on the 15 to 24-year-old cohort, the five-year survival rate of people aged 15 to 29 with bone tumours was 46 percent, 20 percent lower than in Australia over the same time period, the study said.

The survival rate for breast cancer is 64 percent, compared with 80 percent for the US and Germany.

And for young Māori, the five-year survival rate for bone and central nervous system tumours and leukaemias was around 20 percent lower than non-Māori.

The study said Māori women had a higher risk of both developing breast cancer in young adulthood, and of dying from it.

One of the reasons young people were less likely to survive cancer was because fewer participated in clinical cancer trials compared to older people, Ms Ballantine said.

She said New Zealand clinicians and researchers define adolescents and young adults as being 12 to 24 years old, while generally overseas 15 to 29 year olds were grouped together.

One of the reasons for the study was to fill a gap in knowledge about 25 to 29 year olds, Ms Ballantine said.

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