NZers still dying from preventable cancers: specialist

Failure to diagnose and treat preventable cancers is killing New Zealanders, a Christchurch oncologist says.

In an editorial in the New Zealand Medical Journal (NZMJ), Christchurch Hospital radiation oncologist Chris Wynne said a 2005-2010 review of the Cancer Control Strategy showed it was failing to reduce cancer rates and deaths.

"Failure to implement New Zealand's Cancer Control Strategy according to agreed timelines will cost New Zealand many deaths from preventable cancer." The review found that 15 percent of the 150-plus strategy objectives had been met.

Dr Wynne told The Press that the Ministry of Health had to ensure better results in tackling cancer, and called for more funding.

The Cancer Control Council was responsible for making sure the strategy was enacted and advising the health minister who was ultimately responsible for tackling high cancer rates, he said.

However, Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor said cancer control was a government priority and that since 2005, about an extra $80m a year had been spent on new funding for cancer and palliative-care initiatives.

He said progress had been made in implementing the strategy and cited the record low numbers of smokers.

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