Māori cancer survival disparity remains unchanged - research

6:06 pm on 4 September 2020

There has been no change in the survival disparity between Māori and non-Māori with lung cancer for more than a decade.

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That is just one of the findings in a new study released today about the most common cancers among Māori in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

Epidemiologist and co-author Jason Gurney said lung cancer killed more Māori than any other cancer with around 300 deaths a year.

While the study found a reduction in the mortality rate over time for Māori, there were other alarming trends.

"We aren't seeing any shift in the survival disparity between Māori and non-Māori, so Māori being 30 percent more likely to die of their lung cancer compared to non-Māori, that has sat there for the last decade," he said.

"It's similar to what we saw for the decade previous to that. So despite heightened attention over the last couple of decades, nothing has happened."

He said it was difficult to say why exactly there had been no shift.

"There's a number of factors that can be at play here," he said.

"We do know that there is a need for examination of a CT lung cancer screening programme, particularly one that might be targeted towards Māori, and there is work going on in different groups around the country that are examining that further," he said.

"The idea with that is to try to find lung cancers earlier so they can be diagnosed at a point at which surgery and other sorts of treatment can be taken to improve survival outcomes for Māori with lung cancer but of course that's not something that's going to happen in the next year or two, these sorts of things take a long time, so there's a lot of things that need to happen in the interim."

A range of articles published in the New Zealand Medical Journal put the spotlight on inequities in the health system, specifically facing Māori and Pacific people.

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