8 May 2015

Disparity in Māori prostate cancer survival

7:56 am on 8 May 2015

Racism and discrimination are partly responsible for Māori men's poor survival rate for prostate cancer, a Māori health specialist says.

Marewa Glover

Marewa Glover Photo: Supplied

A new study shows Māori men have more advanced prostate cancer at the point of diagnosis Europeans.

It found that 19 percent of Māori men have metastatic, or advanced prostate cancer, when they receive a diagnosis, compared with 10 percent of Europeans.

The authors of the study, from the Midland Cancer Network and Auckland University, said 1500 men took part and of those 908 were Māori.

Associate Professor with the Research Centre for Maori Health at Massey University Marewa Glover said work needed to be done into why there was such a difference in healthcare and outcomes.

"It highlights the need to improve the care they are recieving and information and support they are getting.

"We need to look at why this is happening, this differential care, and why Māori men are not being offered the same treatment at the same equitable level. The disparity is unacceptable."

She said Aotearoa still had a long way to go to making services fair.

"When you get that inequitable delivery of treatment and the decision about whether or not someone is referred on to surgery or not - we still have a long way to go and a lot to do to make the healthcare system here more equitable."

Ms Glover said it was important to look at the social problems that contribute to getting prostate cancer.

"We need to reduce the health risks and the lifestyle behaviours that are not helping as well.

"But social and economic determinants - is that where the problem lies? It is defintely a large contributor, but so is discrimination and racism."