Summit to seek rectal cancer solutions

A "landmark'' bowel cancer summit meeting in Wellington today will look at how to improve survival rates in New Zealand, which are lower than those of other countries, summit convener Dunedin medical oncologist Chris Jackson says.

Patients were treated faster under new expectations placed on district health boards, but that did not mean their survival prospects improved, Dr Jackson said.

''Doing something faster is not the same as doing something better.''

The summit would be attended by Health Minister Tony Ryall, and a ''broad church'' of more than 160 colorectal cancer practitioners, believed to be the largest multidisciplinary meeting of rectal cancer specialists held in New Zealand.

''New Zealand is the rectal cancer capital of the world, and so we are holding the Rectal Cancer Summit to discuss current gold-standard treatment, and to look to the future to see what we need to do to further combat this major illness.

''We have the world's biggest problem, so we need the world's best solutions.''

Treating bowel cancer was more complicated than other cancers, and involved multiple specialists. Otago and Southland had New Zealand's highest rate of bowel cancer, while New Zealand women had the highest rates in the world.

Also, the chances of surviving bowel cancer in New Zealand were lower than in Australia, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, he said.

''We can't take the country forward on our own from Dunedin,'' Dr Jackson said.


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