Unequal impact of cancer rates

Disparities remain between Maori and non-Maori health outcomes for many types of cancer, an Otago University report says.

But the report, prepared for the Ministry of Health, said considerable progress had been made in achieving fairer health outcomes for cervical cancer for Maori and non-Maori.

For the 10 years to 2006, Maori mortality rates for cervical cancer fell by 11 percent a year, more than double the drop in non-Maori death rates of 5 percent a year over the same period.

The report, Unequal Impact II: Maori and Non-Maori Cancer Statistics by Deprivation and Rural-Urban Status 2002-2006, concluded that the cervical cancer success was not being replicated with other types of cancer.

The Otago University, Wellington, report follows on from the first cancer chart book Unequal Impact: Maori and Non-Maori Cancer Statistics 1996-2001, which provided specific information about the unequal distribution of cancer incidence and outcomes for Maori compared with non-Maori. The latest report investigated the role of area deprivation and rural-urban status on Maori and non-Maori cancer incidence, stage at diagnosis, survival and mortality.

Area deprivation and/or rural-urban status have the potential to influence disparities in cancer incidence and outcomes through a range of avenues and mechanisms.

Findings include:

* 50 percent of Maori cancer registrations from 2002-2006, compared to 18 percent of non-Maori, were among people living in the two most socio-economically deprived deciles;

* cancer incidence was lowest in rural areas (for both Maori and non-Maori), and higher in small towns than main urban areas (among Maori only);

* rural and small town residents had poorer survival chances than main urban area residents.

Minisitry of Health deputy director-general Maori health Teresa Wall said considerable work had taken place to enhance the aspects of the system that were doing well.

"There has been improvement, particularly in the area of cervical cancer. But overall, the burden of cancer continues to disproportionately impact on Maori," she said.

"We must continue in our drive for better services that deliver high quality, patient-centred health care. Early diagnosis and early treatment are two areas in particular, where we could enhance the effectiveness of services to ensure the needs of all patients are being met."




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